Lab progress: desks!

Ryan B. cheesing in the lab with our new desks

Ryan B. approves of the new desks

Since we first gained access to ERC 516 a few months ago, we have been slowly but steadily building the lab up. It took a long time, but we finally have all our servers racked, and our racks stashed away in our server room (ERC 513). With the main lab space finally free of endless cardboard boxes and clutter, we were able to have desks and chairs installed by UC!

We have eight desks that include workstations and extra shelving, and four more smaller desks. It’s pretty cozy, and we expect we’ll be getting a lot of mileage out of the room as a study space this semester.

We have made a lot of progress, but there’s still loads more to do. We still need to get our TVs mounted on the walls – once the mounts arrive, UC maintenance will be putting them up. We also don’t have the operating systems finalized on the workstations. For now, we’ve loaded Ubuntu on all of them, but we ultimately plan to set them up with PXE network booting so that we can easily change and reinstall the OS on all of them at once.

Messy room with server racks, with Chris hiding behind one of them

Still need to eliminate the troll infestation in the server room

In the server room, there’s still a lot more work to be done. Thanks to some new recruits at the first lab session of the semester today, we have got a basic network online in the server room. Our firewalls have an internet connection, and a few of the servers are connected to the switches now.

However, we haven’t installed operating systems on any of the servers yet, nor have we done much reconfiguration of the firewalls and switches. We’re planning to put all the servers into clusters using OpenStack, a software suite that makes it easy to manage a private cloud, running on top of CentOS.

We also need to have an ethernet cable run between the server room and the lab space to provide a dedicated link between the rooms. We want to be able to experiment freely, which might mean running malicious code or flooding the network with traffic. A direct cable would allow us to run amok without risk of causing issues for anyone else (UC IT would be none too pleased if we pulled these sorts of shenanigans on their network).

The front door to our lab room, with two students working inside

All in all, we’re having a lot of fun and making great strides in getting our lab online. If you want to get involved, stop on by during our lab time! We meet in ERC 516 every Monday from 4:30pm to ~8pm (our lab times are very lax, so no worries if you can only come for a fraction of the time).