IT Usage Guidelines and Good Practices

These guidelines describe specific practices expected at all times in private offices or public labs or spaces. Engineering Computer Services (ECS) may take action when these guidelines are violated.

Computing Resources

Computing resources, both physical machines and the virtual computing environment, are made available to support academic computing in the College. To ensure that computing resources are available equitably:

  • On a single shared workstation/computer, confine your access to one interactive1 session and one background job2.You can use one interactive session to check on the status of a background job. See Examples below.
  • Limit yourself to two concurrent background jobs on the entire network. It is best to start the two jobs on two different machines in order to distribute the load. All background jobs on engineering workstations must be set to run at a low priority.
  • Refrain from running server programs. Executing server programs is expressly prohibited when 1) the program continues to run after you log out; 2) the program is not related to the study of engineering; or 3) the program duplicates services already provided on the network (e.g., a web server). Please consult with ECS staff if this policy negatively impacts academic needs.

1 “interactive session” is using the keyboard and mouse to communicate with the computer. All Windows sessions are interactive.

2 “background session” is a job submitted that requires no keyboard or mouse input to complete the computation. You can submit background jobs/sessions on the Linux workstations, but not on the Windows computers.

Examples: If you are seated at and logged into a Linux workstation or a Windows computer, that is one interactive session; if you connect to another machine, that is the second session. If you submit a job to run without needing keyboard input, that is a background job, your second session. When coming into the ECN remotely via SSH, the SSH session is one active session; if you connect via SSH to another machine, that is a second session.

  • Use the nice command.

Data Integrity

  • If you store data outside a network drive, you are responsible for backup.

Email Good Practices

  • Never respond to an email asking for your account information (password). The University nor the college will never ask for your account information via email.
  • If you receive unsolicited email from within the College and prefer not to receive subsequent mailings, speak with the sender and ask that your name be removed from subsequent mailings.
  • If an account owner requests that s/he be removed from mass mailings, honor that request.

Software Licensing

  • Software that the university or the college licenses for academic or research use may be installed on personally owned computers only if the licensing allows.

While it is impossible to enumerate all situations that might require action, these usage guidelines illustrate acceptable conduct. If your situation requires deviation from these guidelines, or you do not know if an activity falls outside these guidelines, please consult ECS staff to coordinate any special requirements. These may include relaxed background job priority, extra process allowances, or extra disk space. Every effort will be made to coordinate with individual users and to accommodate the bona fide needs of study and research.

Computer Lab Guidelines

In order to promote a productive work environment, the following policies are in effect at all ECS IT facilities. Because security of the ECS computer labs, conference rooms, and group work rooms is critical to the success of 24-hour access, you are responsible for secure and orderly use of these facilities at all times.

Authorized Users

Only faculty, staff, and students currently enrolled in engineering classes may use the equipment. If someone who does not have an engineering computer account is discovered using the facilities, s/he may be asked to leave the facility.

Computers Not Being Used

To set the screen lock on a Windows computer, press Ctrl + Alt + Del and select Lock Computer. The screen lock software automatically activates after 10 minutes of idle time. You can be logged in but away from a lab Windows computer for 30 minutes, after which you are logged out. You can activate the screen lock or let the 10 minutes elapse; in either case you remain logged in a total of 30 minutes with no activity. When you move the mouse of a screen locked computer, you’ll see a dialogue box in the middle of the screen and the length of time left before logout at the bottom left.

On Linux workstations, from the K/Start Menu select Leave, then Lock.

ECS staff are authorized to logoff any computer left unattended for an extended amount of time.

Cleaning time

Custodial services have priority during their scheduled time and users are expected to leave the facilities promptly at cleaning time.

Complaints

Please submit any complaints to an ECS staff member, 1256 SC, or send a message to suggestion@engineering.uiowa.edu.

Food, drink, and smoking

Covered cups and mugs for liquids are allowed, but no other food, drink, or tobacco is allowed in the IT facilities at any time. Please leave food and uncovered drink on the tables at the entrances to the labs. Users that are found with food or drink at a workstation may be penalized.

Games

Use of the facilities for academic work always takes precedence over game playing.

People using game software may be asked to make that computer workstation available to students waiting to do homework. Limit game playing to those times when an IT facility is not crowded.

Hardware/software problems

Please report any problems you have with software or hardware to ECS staff, 1256 or 1253 SC, 319-335-5055. If equipment in the labs is broken, please don't attempt to fix it. Come to the Engineering Help Desk, 1253 SC, or send email describing the problem and naming the computer involved as soon as possible. Do not turn off the computers.

Noise

Keep the volume of computer speakers and other sound devices to a minimum. Avoid offensive language and loud speech.

Printing

If a printer is out of paper, report empty printer paper trays to a consultant, 319-335-5055, 1253 SC. If no consultant is on duty, send email. If possible, send your file to another printer. If no print options exist, you must wait until an ECS staff member restocks the paper.

Printing Reimbursement

Reimbursement is provided if the printer malfunctions. As soon as you notice a problem with your output from a laser printer, report it to the Engineering Help Desk, 1253 SC. Repeated printing in spite of equipment problems will not be refunded.

Resource Use

Do not leave workstations running programs overnight without permission from ECS staff. If permission is not obtained, the staff is authorized to logoff the workstation.

24-hour access

The Elder and Hering computer labs are never locked, so if you have an engineering computer account, you can use those labs 24 hours a day. The 1245 computer classroom is locked after 9pm week nights and weekend morning and evenings. The 2301 lab is locked at 5:30pm until 7:30am. When the building or rooms are locked, you must use your access card to enter.