CSD Computer Facilities -- CSD-CF

Welcome to the Computer Science Department at Stanford!  The Gates Building houses the department and around 1000 computers.  CSD Computer Facilities (CSD-CF) administers many of those computers, including the department's general student computers: Xenon and the Pups.

Here we'll discuss some things that CSD-CF is involved with, including: Xenon computer accounts, CS email addresses and the programs pedit and lookup.  We'll also talk about reading email and news, reporting problems and getting more information.

Your Xenon computer account

The Computer Science Department provides each CSD student with a Unix computer account.  Most CSD students will have an account on a computer called Xenon, which is a Sun Enterprise 3000 running Solaris 2.6.  This same account allows you to log in to the Pup cluster machines (pup1, pup2, etc.) in the Gates basement (Gates B21) -- these are Intel PCs, some running Solaris 2.5.1 and some runnings Windows NT.

To obtain a Xenon account, fill out a Computer Account Request Form.  You should have received one in the mail, but there should be another in this packet or you can get one from Gates 185 from a mailbox in the back part of the room on the right.  Return the completed form to the slot in the file cabinet outside Gates 185.  The account will be opened in a day or two.

The first thing you should do when you initially log into your Xenon account is change your password with the passwd command.  Your password should not include any part of your name or user ID or address, etc., and it should not contain any words from any languages, spelled correctly or not.  It is a good idea to include both upper and lower case characters as well as digits and punctuation in your password. Remember that the security of our systems starts with your having a good password -- one that can't be cracked.

If you are unable to log in to your Xenon account, come to CSD-CF in Gates offices 161 to 170 during business hours and someone will help you.

Note: Do not run compute-intensive jobs on Xenon or the Pups.  Also none of these student machines is to be used for sponsored research -- the research groups provide their own computers for that.
CS email addresses

Everyone in the CS Department, and in fact everyone in the Gates Building (which includes folks from CS and from EE), has or can have a permanent CS email address, which can forward wherever desired.  Your Xenon user ID is also your CS user name for electronic mail.  Instead of having people send mail to you at Xenon.Stanford.EDU, you should have them send mail to you at CS.Stanford.EDU.  (You cannot actually log in to the computer named CS -- CS is for email only.). Mail sent to you at CS is initially set up to be forwarded to your Xenon account (you can then read it on Xenon or the Pups).  Mail you send from Xenon will have CS (not Xenon) in your return address.

You can change your CS mail forwarding by running the pedit program on Xenon and selecting email information.  Note that forwarding changes made with pedit take up to an hour to become effective. Also your CS forwarding address takes precedence over any .forward file you may have on Xenon.  For more on mail forwarding, including the interaction between your CS forwarding address and your .forward file, give the command /usr/local/bin/help forward on Xenon.


Please use the lookup command to check your information in the CSD database.  Or use it to look up anyone else in our database.  Specify a CS address (lookup smith@cs) or a last name (lookup smith) or first and last name (lookup john smith) in order to specify whose data you wish to see.

To make changes to your information in the database, run the pedit program (with no arguments).  Keeping your database entry up-to-date is your responsibility and is very important (for example, the email address is used to generate department-wide mailing lists).  You can run lookup and pedit from many of the UNIX hosts in the department.

Please be responsible when making changes to your PEDIT entry.  The department does not look favorably upon obscene names, titles, or addresses.  Also, please keep your entry meaningful and accurate.  People use this database to locate you, so an erroneous entry could lead them astray.

The lookup and pedit programs access the CSD (PEDIT) database.  To access the campus-wide database, use the whois program.  Unfortunately, these two databases are not currently connected.  (With whois, you may have to specify "whois.stanford.edu" -- or just "whois" -- as the whois host.)

Communication via email and csd.bboard

There are many programs that you can use to read and send electronic mail. These include eudora, zmail, elm, pine, mh, xmh, exmh, emacs/rmail, emacs/vm, mail, etc.  See the man pages for more information about these alternatives or ask the folks you work with.

The most commonly used programs for reading newsgroups are trn and netscape. Other newsreaders exist, and you may choose a different one after talking to people about the alternatives.  You should read the newsgroup csd.bboard to keep up with what is happening in CSD.  See csd.colloq for information about seminars, phd orals, etc., and csd.jobs for job offers and information.  Also, read at least one of csd.phdcs, csd.mscs, csd.bscs, csd.phdsccm and csd.mssccm.  You can send messages to csd.bboard by sending email to csd.bboard@cs.  Note: job announcements should go to jobs@cs, NOT to csd.bboard.  You can subscribe to job announcements with pedit (select relations).

Reporting CSD computer problems
If you notice a computer, printer or network down, or if you need a file restored or an IP address, point your web browser at http://csdcf.stanford.edu and click on Get Help. Fill in the appropriate form and submit it to let us know the problem. If for some reason you can't access the web, send a message to action at the appropriate computer, e.g., action@xenon.  If the particular machine is down or mail isn't working there, send your message to action@cs.  Before sending a message, you might want to see if we already know about the problem by using the finger@cs command, which shows information on expected downtimes.  If you are unable even to send email, you can call CSD-CF at 650-725-1451 or drop by Gates offices 161 to 170.

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