Computing at LPL

Contacts:  Joe Gotobed (Kuiper 440)  |  John Pursch (Kuiper 201)  |  Eneida Guerra De Lima (Kuiper 213)

ServersThe mission of LPL Central Computing Systems (LCS) is to support and enhance LPL’s ability to fulfill its objectives through the application of appropriate communication and computer technology. LCS provides network communications between all LPL computers, together with all system administration and support necessary to accomplish this goal. LCS is committed to furthering LPL’s research computing efforts to maximize productivity for the largest number of users. 

All LCS personnel report to the network supervisor (Joe Gotobed), who in turn reports to the Director. In addition, one or two student workers report to the network supervisor. The PIRL network manager is also available for advice and will support LCS in the absence of the LPL network supervisor and in emergencies. 

User requests to LCS personnel can be made orally or by e-mailing Sys. Monitoring of these requests and the actions on these requests helps produce statistics on the real needs in each area, and facilitates reasonable reallocation of human and material resources as needs evolve. The goal is to make the system run itself as much as possible. 

Functions of LPL Central Computing Systems (LCS)

There are four general categories of LCS functions:

  1. Networking and Communication
  2. Systems Administration
  3. Scientific Computing
  4. Training

Networking and Communication
Three priorities form the core of the LCS network function:

  • Networking and communications hardware (cabling and routing hardware)
  • Networking software (E-mail, ftp, ssh, file sharing)
  • Network security

In addition, LCS provides advice on matters related to becoming connected to the network.

Systems Administration
Among the centrally-supported system administration duties supported by LCS are:

  • Maintaining email, print, and network file servers
  • Maintaining network services and protocols
  • Maintaining Business Office and Administrative Office computers
  • Maintaining workstations
  • Supporting standard applications

The Computing Advisory Committee is responsible for recommending to the Director the minimum network interface and administrative services in order to establish a baseline of service that LPL is committed to provide. Some of these services (e.g., support of Macintosh and Intel PC connection to the net) may be contracted out. These services to the user will be well-defined and any changes will be thought out carefully before being made. All users will be notified well in advance of any changes in order to permit individuals to assess the impact of changes on their work.

Scientific Computing
The scientific computing needs of LPL fall into two broad categories:

  • Support for autonomous groups with medium-large amounts of "private" computing resources
  • Support for common computing areas where LPL provides hardware

Common to both groups is the need for program development resources. Of these resources the most fundamental are compilers for various languages which are used to support research projects. In addition to compilers for the standard languages, "C", FORTRAN, PASCAL, etc., support of visualization and graphic languages introduces economies of scale in purchase and support. Examples of these products are IDL and NCAR graphics. There are also needs for other types of packages or application programs. The Computing Advisory Committee evaluates these needs. LCS provides printing and graphical output capabilities in all common areas. LCS also provides limited support for more expensive specialized hardware which is useful but which cannot be justified by single users our groups (for example, CD-ROM writers and color printers).

Computing education and practical training is provided centrally. At least twice a year, tutorials are given concerning LCS capabilities, an introduction to their use, and information on classes at CCIT and elsewhere. LCS recognizes that many personnel who use computers are not interested in the technology of computing. They simply want to get the job done. Training and written and verbal communications will be carried out with that in mind.