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Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of frequently asked questions. If your query is not covered below, then please contact the ISD Service Desk who will be able to assist you further.

What computers are available at UCL?

There are many computers at UCL, some of them managed by Information Systems (IS), and some managed by departments. Information Systems manages a number of open access and departmental cluster rooms on the College network. The computers managed by IS are of two different types, each type being referred to as a platform:

  • Personal computers PCs running Cluster Myriad and Cluster WTS. More information on these can
  • Unix timesharing service
    The central timesharing service, Socrates, allows many users to access it simultaneously. Socrates can be reached from any IS computer and other networked computers in departments and outside (you can use SSH or telnet to connect to socrates.ucl.ac.uk or the Exceed software on WTS)

All types of IS computers have access to the same filestore, held on centrally maintained disks. The different types or platforms run different software, including different electronic mail programs, and stored files have a different structure depending on the type of computer on which they are created. It is therefore important to know which platform you are using and, if you don't just stick to one platform, which files have been created from each.

Which computer is best for me?

You will need to look at what software is available on each type of computer before making a choice. Many users initially choose the platform they are most familiar with, and additional choices can be made at any time. Once registered as an IS user, all platforms are available to you, (except Plato). If you want to use a word processor e.g. Microsoft Word, then you need to use Cluster WTS on a PC.

In view of the number of workstations available, performance considerations and the level of support given, PCs (running Cluster WTS) are recommended if you have no particular preference.

If you want to run computationally intensive jobs, you would probably be better advised to use a Unix computer. Sophisticated graphical applications are ideally suited to a Unix workstation.

  • PCs running WTS PCs are computers running Myriad and Cluster WTS (based on Windows 2000 and runs Microsoft Office as well other software).
  • Socrates and Unix workstations
    The Unix central timesharing service, Socrates, is based on a Sun Enterprise UltraSPARC Server which can support many users concurrently. Software provided on Socrates includes mathematical and statistical packages, graphical display systems, text editing and formatting programs and a variety of programming languages as well other software.
  • Plato Plato is a more powerful system intended for computationally intensive work. Having a similar portfolio of software as Socrates at the time of writing, it is intended for medium-scale, non-interactive number crunching. Only staff and postgraduates who can demonstrate a particular need will be registered to use Plato - for more information e-mail: plato-registrations@ucl.ac.uk


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Where are the computer workrooms?

IS provides a number of open access rooms containing groups of computers, accessible to all members of UCL. Each room is called a cluster. Most clusterscontain pcs running Myriad and Cluster WTS .

A map of the cluster rooms is available from the ISD Service Desk, it includes details of all IS public cluster rooms, including opening hours and locations.

IS also manages some computers for departments, which may not be open for general access, but only available to members of that department. These are set up in a similar way to the open access computers. IS-managed machines should display a blue IS label on the front and will display standard IS information.

Several departments have computers that they set up and manage themselves. These may work quite differently from IS computers and are beyond the scope of IS documentation.

It is important to know what type of computer you are using and whether it is managed by IS or not. Computers of different types and with different setups behave differently.


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How do I print in computer workrooms and is there a charge?

There are mono laser printers available in all computer workrooms and some with colour printing. Black and white printouts are charged at 5p per page and colour at 25p per page. For more information on the printing service click here.


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Do the computers have CD/DVD-ROM and CD/DVD-Writers?

All cluster machines have CD ROM drives installed. These can be accessed through Windows Explorer along with all the other drives available for your use. The CD ROM drives in clusters are normally drive E:.

CD ROM drives can be used to access CD ROMs for academic use only. You cannot use them to try and install your own software, games etc.

CD ROMs are also available on Staff Managed machines. The drive letter will depend on the machine and you will be informed of this when your machine or CD ROM drive is installed.

Many machines in student computer workrooms have CD rewriters.

From Cluster WTS CDs are accessed as the E: drive. However you cannot write data to a CD directly from your home filebase (i.e. your R: drive). You must copy it to the D: drive as an interim measure, then write this to the CD using Windows Explorer or the Nero6 application.

You should delete any files stored temporarily on the D: drive after you've finished downloading them to the CD. Note that if you do not delete your files on the D: drive, anyone subsequently using the PC will be able to read them. All files stored on the D: drive automatically get removed when the machines are rebooted each night.


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Can I use USB sticks in computer workrooms?

New machines in IS open-access cluster rooms have USB sockets on the front panels. For details of where such machines are located, refer to the Cluster room map.

Note that to use a USB data stick (otherwise known as USB keys) you must plug in the key BEFORE logging in and remove it AFTER logging out. This can usually be accessed as drive F: from Cluster WTS.


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Are there any computer workrooms with provisions for disabled students?

Many of the student workrooms are accessible by wheelchair. Please click here for more information.

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