Regular Admin Tasks

There are relatively few recurring admin tasks on the vislab network; virtually everything is automated (log rotation, etc), event driven (host monitoring) or managed off-site (backups).

Security Updates

The only real task to be undertaken regularly is security updates for the Linux machines. While this theoretically be automated it is critical enough to warrant human supervision. However by subscribing to the security lists for Debian and Ubuntu this chore can be event-driven too. You can subscribe to these lists here:

When you receive a notification on these lists you should perform the following for each machine of that type on theMachineList page:

  • Log into that machine via ssh
  • Run sudo apt-get update

  • Run sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

In most cases this is all that is required. You may be asked questions about whether to update/replace configuration files; in almost all cases the correct answer is "No".


On possible problem you may encounter is with the University enforcing of proxies. While most hosts should be configured to handle this, if you do encounter misconfigured hosts you have two options:

  • Set the proxy via the environment: export http_proxy=

  • Create/Edit the file /etc/apt/apt.conf and add the line: Acquire::http::Proxy "";

Major Upgrades

As of August 2006 all Linux machines should be running either Ubuntu Dapper or Debian Sarge. Both of these are expected to be supported until well into 2009, so major OS updates should not be required any time soon.

All other operating systems on the network (Mac OSX, Irix) are either automatically updated or have been placed into the university private address space which is heavily firewalled.