CS VM Farm


This article provides general information about the instructional CS VM Farm. The CS VM Farm is an Engineering IT-managed resource for students in Computer Science courses. The VM Farm provides customizable virtual machines that provide more flexibility than Engineering IT's managed instructional environments.

There are 2 VM categories:

  • Semesterly student VMs - created at scale from a VM template based on course staff input

  • Semesterly course VMs - created for course staff to build and test course assignments

  • Note: The VM farm is only architected for running scalable student-assigned VMs. Engineering IT is working with CS on hosting course infrastructure on a separate resource that supports high uptime, high availability, load balancing, backups, etc.

    VM Farm policies

    • VM requests must be submitted 10 business days in advance

    • Course staff and students must review the following pages and be familiar with the basics of using Linux:
    • VMs will be provisioned in a 'powered off' state.  Students will be responsible for powering on their own VMs and can CS VM Farm - Power on or reset VMs.  Engineering IT will power off VMs daily at 5 AM.

    • Beyond the 'General Specifications' listed below, course staff are responsible for any additional VM configurations and associated troubleshooting
      • If the VM becomes unusable as a result of invalid configurations, Engineering IT will reset the VM to its initially-provisioned state.
      • VMs do not have scheduled backups. You are responsible for your data!  Cloud, Cloud-based storage solutions for campus
    • All VM allocations for a course will be removed on the day grades are due
    • Students will be given sudo on their assigned VMs

    • Due to the risks of having course staff log into student machines where the student has root-level permissions, we provision an administrative VM for course staff only (i.e. sp21-cs100-adm.cs.illinois.edu).  The administrative VM allows password-less access to all student machines over ssh from the root account.

    • In order to ensure all course staff and students auditing the course have access to their VMs, instructors must follow the guide at: Instructor Tools
      • Course staff are responsible for tracking daily roster changes via the 'Instructor Tools' guide linked above and relaying VM changes to Engineering IT.  Note that newly registered students will need to wait one day for roster changes to take effect.
    • Standard EWS resource policies apply: EWS Labs, EWS Policies

    • Due to the volatile nature of the work done on the VM farm, we will do our best to maintain uptime but may need to make resources temporarily unavailable in order to keep the system running. Course staff will be notified regarding these maintenance events.

    • Semesterly Course VMs are not intended for running course critical services.

    General Specifications

    • OS: CentOS 7

    • Authentication uses Campus LDAP. i.e. NetID and AD password

    • VM allocation: Most courses assign one VM per student or group. Other options are available.

    • Resource configurations start with 1 vCPU and 1 GB of RAM and can vary based on software used by course

    • Students have sudo privileges on their assigned VM

    • VMs have configuration management agents

    • VM hostnames have the syntax of sp21-cs100-01.cs.illinois.edu

    • The VMs are on private campus IP space (with NAT for internet access). VMs will not be accessible from outside campus networks. In order to SSH to a VM, you must be connected through the VPN, CISCO AnyConnect, Installation Instructions Splash Page. For more information, please refer to this page: Networking, Guide to University of Illinois IP Spaces

    • List of available software 

    Example of a common setup

    CPUs 1 vCPU
    RAM 1 GB
    Storage ~40 GB
    # of VMs 1 per student or group - i.e. sp21-cs100-01.cs.illinois.edu
    Administrative VM for course staff 1 per course - i.e. sp21-cs100-adm.cs.illinois.edu

    Request VMs

    Click here to submit a VM request form for your course.

    Keywords:CS "Computer Science" VM "Virtual Machine" Farm "vm farm"   Doc ID:104597
    Owner:Manu P.Group:University of Illinois Engineering IT
    Created:2020-08-03 13:23 CDTUpdated:2022-05-09 11:14 CDT
    Sites:University of Illinois Engineering IT
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