Computing Facilities
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Northwestern University

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CFS Homepage

Welcome to the Computing Facilities Staff homepage. Find here links to useful department computing information and a record of news and alerts generated by the IT staff.

Whom to contact for support, and what information to provide.

News / Alerts
2005-09-01  Network Slowness Problem Resolved
Over the past few days, ECEnet has been experiencing network lag when accessing resources that cross subnets. The CFS has been working with NUIT's networking group ("NSG") to resolve this problem since Tuesday. At about 3:00pm today, the problem was resolved. PSB
2005-03-15  Firefox recommended browser
Firefox, the hot new web browser from the Mozilla Organization is available on Solaris, Linux, and Windows. The CFS recommends Windows users in particular switch from Microsoft Internet explorer to Firefox. On the CFS-supported UNIX and Linux machines, simply type "firefox &" in a terminal window to start it. PSB
2005-02-17  Resurgence of old virus message causes confusion
Some weeks ago, I sent out a warning regarding received messages with contents matching those included at the end of this message. However, the CFS has recently received several questions regarding the authenticity of the message's origin, so clarification is warranted.

If you receive the message included below (or similar variations on the wording), know that this is a virus-generated message which contains a virus payload in the attachment section. You should ignore its instructions and simply delete the message.

As many of you have guessed, the CFS would never use such generic wording to describe itself, our domain, and our users. So for many of you this is clearly suspicious.

As always, if you read your email on a UNIX or Linux machine, you are safe, even if you opened the attachment. But if you read your mail on a Windows machine and you followed the "instructions" in the attachment, contact the CFS. Most likely your antivirus software prevented an infection (this is not a new hoax/virus), but we'd still like to hear from you. PSB

2004-12-03  Venerable ECE Modem Pool to Retire
Not many of you know this, but ECE has had its own modem pool for over a decade and has served us very well when NU IT's pools were too small and therefore busy and unavailable. In the last couple of years the ECE modem pool has been idle almost continuously. This is partly due to the fact that many people now have broadband access and less so because NU IT's pools have faster modems and cleaner lines. Indeed, ECE's modems were last upgraded perhaps as long as 8 years ago. They are 28.8 and 33.6K modems. Since our machine room does not have digital lines, it's not possible to reliably get connection speeds approaching 56K.

Costs to modernize the ECE modem pool are excessive. And the cost to maintain the existing pool in its current state is also uneconomical.

Therefore, the CFS must sadly announce its retirement. We will set the date to coincide with the retirement of the NU IT modem pools: 8 months from now, on August 1st 2005. PSB

2004-11-10  New Printer Support Procedure
In order to serve our users better, the CFS has entered into an agreement with Genesis Technologies (GT) for printer maintenance. HP-certified GT technicians will repair our participating HP laser printers for the cost of parts only--labor is free of charge. All toner orders are placed through them and are delivered the next day. Annual maintenance is performed on these printers to keep them running smoothly. This is included free of charge in our agreement.

The CFS will therefore no longer stock toners for HP laser printers. Instead, when a printer reports that it is low on toner, contact the CFS with a CUFS account and we'll have GT deliver a new toner on the following business day.

Next week Monday, GT will begin maintenance work on ECE printers. In order to sign up your printer(s), I need the following information. Faculty should inform us only of HP laser printers in their offices. They should designate a grad student to respond with information about their labs. Staff laser printers will be inspected by the CFS.

Again, I'll need to have your responses by the end of the day this Friday.

Here is the information we need for each HP laser printer:
Printer model:
Serial number:
Starting on Monday anyone that has signed up a printer should expect to see a GT technician working on his or her printers.
2004-11-09  New MyDoom Virus Released
A new email virus has started invading the Windows world. It's a variant of the so-called "MyDoom" virus. The thing that makes this virus unusual is that it does not propagate via attachments. Instead it attempts to lure users into clicking on an HTML link.

As usual, this virus does not affect users who read their mail on a UNIX/Linux or Mac system. Only Windows users need to be concerned with this. That includes nearly all staff and a number of faculty.

See the following link for a concise article on what to expect in the message body of a virus-laden email.
2004-07-23  DHCP Server Moved
The department DHCP server program was upgraded and moved to a new server. The move is transparent to end users and there was no downtime during the switch-over. The new server has three network interfaces. Depending on which subnet your machine is plugged into, you may get a response from any of these IPs. PSB
2004-07-14  Old Department Domains
The and domains were fully retired today. They are no longer reachable in any way.

At the same time, and at the behest of NUIT, all email processing for the domains and its subdomains has ceased. As a consequence, email sent to or will be bounced back to the sender. This change was first announced by NUIT and ECE over a year ago. There have also been many reminders leading up to today's change. Anyone still using in their email addresses must change their settings to use

On June 20, 2005, the domain will be completely removed. See for details. PSB
2004-05-21  Matlab License Server down and back.
At approximately 9:00pm last night, network connectivity to NUIT's Matlab license server was lost. A consequence of this was that research Matlab clients could not be started and would display the following error
License Manager Error -96.
Server node is down or not responding
Already-running matlabs would print an error like the following:
MATLAB has lost its connection to the license manager.
Unless the connection is restored, MATLAB will exit in 12 minutes.
The CFS has apprised NUIT of the outage. As of about 12:40pm, the server was back up and running. PSB
2004-03-01  Wilkinson Lock Replaced
The NU Lockshop has replaced the Marlok-brand electronic lock on the Wilkinson Lab main door after a number of reports of problems. Let the CFS know if you have problems with the door and we will relay your report to the Lockshop. PSB
2004-01-26  MyDoom/Novarg Virus Hits
A new virus--called Novarg by Symantec--has hit the Windows world. The January 26th Symantec AntiVirus Definitions file recognizes Novarg. Make sure your definitions are up-to-date and you do a full scan. Information about Novarg can be found at
2004-01-22  Attachments Filter Reminder
The CFS would like to remind you that we have procmail-based filters written to automatically move all incomming email messages with .exe, .pif, and .scr attachments (typical virus transports) to a folder named "VIRUSES". If you are interested in installing this filter, please contact the CFS and we will send you instructions. PSB
2004-01-22  Webmail Available
After a somewhat-long testing period, ECE Webmail is ready for general access. The Computing Staff has chosen a full-featured webmail package that includes an easy-to-use, yet powerful user interface. It runs on top of a (self-signed) SSL certificate, so your login information and email content is encrypted, making it is safe to use globally. The server's address is
(Notice the "s" in "https".) Please notify the CFS if you have any problems with this service. PSB
2004-01-12  Security Alert
The CFS sent important security-related email to all NUECE constituents. If you have not received these communications, please contact the CFS for a copy. PSB
2003-12-21  Wilkinson Suns Upgraded
Sixteen of the Wilkinson Sun workstations have been replaced with newer, faster hardware. You will be able to easily distinguish the new Sun Blade 1500s as they're tower models and have a flamboyant red streak across their cases. Specs on the new machines: 512MB of memory, 80GB disks, Sun UltraSPARC III processors. They should prove to run Mentor Graphics this quarter much better than the Ultra 5s they replaced. They'll also run rings around the existing Blade 100s still in the lab. Enjoy! PSB
2003-12-11  Unscheduled Network Outage
From about 2pm through approximately 3:25pm today, the university as a whole suffered nameserver and other network connectivity problems. NUIT has informed us that this was traced to routing configuration changes implemented by NU's ISP. These changes were reversed, and full network connectivity was restored. PSB
2003-11-25  PC Assistant Hired!
Andrew Kou has joined the CFS! He has very well-rounded experience in Windows support and will be a great asset to the team. Welcome aboard! PSB
2003-11-19  Matlab License Server down and back.
At approximately 4:15pm, network connectivity to NUIT's Matlab license server was lost. A consequence of this was that research Matlab clients could not be started and would display the following error
License Manager Error -96.
Server node is down or not responding
Already-running matlabs would print an error like the following:
MATLAB has lost its connection to the license manager.
Unless the connection is restored, MATLAB will exit in 12 minutes.
Network connectivity was restored at approximately 4:50pm. PSB
2003-11-05  CFS web pages redesigned and updated.
The CFS web subtree has been updated, redesigned, and bolstered with more information. The staff hopes that the new design and content will be useful to our users. We welcome your feedback and appreciate suggestions on further improvements. Send us a quick note! PSB
2003-11-04  More IPs added to subnet 6 DHCP pool
Five more IP addresses were added to the subnet 6 DHCP pool bringing the total number to 26. This was done after the staff discovered that all 21 previously-assigned addresses were in use. PSB
2003-11-03  The CFS seeks a PC Assistant
The CFS is seeking a workstudy student/temp with basic MS Windows knowledge to help out with department support needs. Please see our job posting. PSB

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