What is Engineering Linux?
Overview of Engineering IT managed Linux service
Why use Engineering Linux?
We Do the Hard Work for You
Engineering Linux is the supported Linux environment used by the College of Engineering. Our goal with Engineering Linux is to handle all the system administration tasks freeing our users to focus on their research and work. To do so, we leverage tools like SaltStack, Ansible, Git, Cobbler, Python and other technologies. Using an agile, dev-ops approach to systems management allows us to manage thousands of systems in a stable, coherent manner, and allows you a seamless experience using Engineering Linux.
User and Group Management
If you have a NetID, you already have an account on our Linux machines. We use NetIDs and the campus Active Directory for our user accounts, which means that managing your account is easy. You use the same username and password for both Windows and Linux machines and you can easily change your password with https://passwords.cites.illinois.edu/.
Managing research group members is simple on Engineering Linux. We use some of the same mechanisms to manage group members in Linux and Windows world, so group members can be managed with relative ease. Group members can even be managed via the web at http://my.engr.illinois.edu/groups. To add external collaborators, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll create accounts for them.
Engineering IT will make sure that your systems receive the latest security patches. We will also ensure that all of your systems pass campus security auditing.
We leverage our configuration management software to ensure that things like your firewall, logging and updates are all managed centrally. If we need to make a change to 300 machines, it can be a simple git commit to ensure the change gets applied to all those machine. Machines can be monitored via Graylog, as well as Nagios, preemptively alerting us to problems.
If you or your group needs a particular piece of software, chances are we already have it ready for you! Our standard Linux install provides a wide array of common packages, and beyond that are Linux Environment Modules which can be used to mount externally configured software. If your group needs further customization of the software environment we can provide that too, especially if the software requested is already a Red Hat package or is freely available elsewhere. Please see the page Requesting Linux Software for further information.
Support and Stability
Our primary Linux distribution is CentOS 7. The CentOS Linux distribution is a stable, predictable, manageable and reproducible platform derived from the sources of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Furthermore, CentOS is an enterprise-class operating system, providing up to date software packages for research and scientific computing. As an organization, Engineering IT is committed to providing support to our Linux users who use this distribution.
We also provide limited support for Ubuntu 16.04 and other LTS releases.
Installation of CentOS or Ubuntu is easy, we use Cobbler to PXE boot your system, installing everything over the network.
With our managed Linux solution, printers that you need to use can be added to group machines by contacting Engineering IT. We will set up your machines to make sure printing works correctly on your desired printer. Also, any printer that is added to one machine is also added to the group machines, providing easy access to printers for the entire group.
Where can I try out Engineering Linux?
All of the EWS Labs which contain Linux machines are running Engineering Linux. If you've ever used a Linux machine in these labs, you've used our Linux distribution! If you need a space to test the capabilities of Engineering Linux beyond what the EWS labs offer, we may be able to set up a Virtual Machine (VM) for that purpose. Please email us at email@example.com if you're looking for a VM or have any further questions about our Linux distribution.
How do I get Engineering Linux?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org! We'll ask you some questions about your group and your machines and help you get everything installed and set up. If you'd like to expedite this process, please fill out the form at https://illinois.edu/fb/sec/740578.
What Engineering Linux isn't
Engineering Linux is not meant for web hosting. While it is possible to run a web server from this Linux distribution, we have other resources in place that are more suited towards running a website. For web hosting, see How do I get a website? If you believe that the web hosting services that Engineering IT offers are not a viable option for your use case, please mail us at email@example.com.