All IBM computer labs in Jesup Hall will be upgraded by the Office for Information Technology over Spring Break to the Windows NT Workstation operating system.
The 30 computers will have a greater set of security features as well as the ability to track a user’s personal desktop settings from one workstation to another. These new options will require users to log in before using the computers, tightening security, and eliminating many of the problems associated with Windows 95, the current operating system.
“NT will make the student labs much more stable and reliable, which will be a big plus, especially around finals,” Jonathan Leamon, Desktop Systems Administrator for the Office of Information Technology said.
Last summer every workstation in Jesup was upgraded; a total of 60 new Macintosh 7300s and 30 IBM Pentium 166s were purchased. All of the IBMs were installed with Windows 95 instead of the old network Windows 3.1 However, this caused several problems. Under the old system, users had to log in before they could use the computers, and with only one netware login per person, had to log out when they left a machine. Users were also prevented from doing any serious damage to the machines as their configuration files were stored on a server separate from the actual machine they were working on. After the upgrade to Windows 95, any user could bypass the login screen and start working or tampering with the system files. Because Windows 95 stored all the configuration files on each local workstation, any changes made during one session would carry over to the next user. If a user made a mistake, such as misconfiguring a printer or changing network setting, the next user would be unable to connect to the network, use word, or print.
Because of these problems, the Office for Information Technology decided to upgrade once again to Windows NT Workstation 4.0 on all the IBMs. This upgrade will take place over spring break and will involve all of the IBM labs in Jesup. After upgrading to NT, users will once again have to log in to use a machine, and will be unable to affect key registry data that could disrupt the machines. It will look and feel exactly the same as Windows 95, with one key difference: under NT, a user will be able to customize his or her desktop and then move to another computer, log in and have the same settings at their new workstation.
“The roving desktops are nice,” Carolin Spiegel ’00, Student Technology Coordinator, commented.The roving desktop is a simple feature, but one which ensures that every user can have a “personalized” computer regardless of which piece of actual hardware they are using
In December, the Windows NT systems underwent testing by both staff and student technology consultants. In February, the IBMs located in the basement lab were all upgraded to NT as a pilot project. Following their success, OIT intends to finish upgrading all the rest of the IBMs in the building to NT during the first week of spring break, ensuring that upon the students return, all the bugs will have been worked out of the system.
Seth Rogers, the Desktop Support Specialist at Jesup noted, “NT is great compared to the alternative.”
The Macintosh labs located in Jesup will not be affected by the latest round of NT upgrading. They are not exempt from the problems of the IBMs. Any users can sit down at a Mac without having to log in and can change many settings. OIT currently runs a piece of software which reconfigures every Mac if anyone changes its settings. The program called “revrdist” synchronizes all settings on a regular basis to ensure that users can continue to use the Macs as they have without encountering any problems caused by malicious misuse or accidental mishaps. The same type of software for the IBMs would be expensive and a burden upon the network, thus forcing the NT solution.