Maintenance Window for College Computers

The following information concerns a program which is currently in its pilot phase. Some information is subject to change.

What is a Workstation Maintenance Window?

A workstation maintenance window is a scheduled period of time in which Information Services will distribute patches, software updates, and perform other remote maintenance on College-owned computers.

Please note that public classroom and lab environments will be updated, but that timing and power options may vary.

Why is this a good thing?

This scheduled maintenance replaces current Apple and Windows update cycles, which currently often interrupt work and require reboots at inconvenient times. It also allows Support Services to test updates before they are released on campus, protecting Bryn Mawr computers from occasional bad or problematic updates. We can also adjust power settings to conserve College resources in a systemic way.

In the long term, we will also be able to apply updates and upgrades to some commonly used software automatically and without inconvenience to community members.

Since all the machines will be at a current patch level, support of these machines becomes a simpler and more straightforward process. This means that problems can be resolved in a more timely fashion, and in many cases, the problem can be prevented from occurring in the first place.

When would this maintenance window occur, and for how long?

In order to interrupt the workstation’s normal function as little as possible, the maintenance window is scheduled to occur during off-hours, likely between 12:30 AM and 8:30 AM, and will typically occur 2-3 times a month. The window will be up to 8 hours long, but not every computer may be receiving updates simultaneously. Each computer will normally be receiving updates for no more than one to two hours.

What will I actually see if I’m at my computer?

Your computer will automatically turn on (assuming it is not already on), and then will begin to receive the updates. At the end of the updates, the server will issue an instruction to each computer to shut down.

What computers will be involved in this?

All College-owned desktop and laptop computers on campus would be part of this update. [Computers can also be excluded at the request of the user, since some machines are used to run programs through the night, see below.]

What does this look like?

    Windows Desktop:

    • Computer will wake at appointed time.
    • Computer will run updates, rebooting as necessary (sometimes more than once)
    • Computers may be on when users come in.

    Mac Desktop:

    • Updates will be made available for several days before maintenance window for optional early install.
    • Computer will be scheduled to turn itself on at appointed time.
    • Software update will run via scheduled command sent from server and will automatically install all available packages, reboots will be permitted.
    • Computers may be on when users come in
 

    Windows Laptop:

    • Updates will be available 2-3 days before scheduled window for install. These can be installed any time by user. (On the computer, these will look identical to the way updates are offered now by MS).
    • It is possible to retrieve and apply upgrades when off-campus.

    Mac Laptop:

    • Updates can be made available for several days before maintenance window
    • Computers which are present on campus at time of window will update automatically

    Laptops and off-campus computers:

    Users of laptops and off-campus College computers will need to take a greater level of responsibility in updating their computers. Depending on how often the computer is on-campus and other factors, it may be necessary to update these computers manually by accepting the updates (much as you currently do) -- the updates provided will be the tested and approved updated from the Bryn Mawr update servers.

    Self-Identified Exclusions:

    • Updates will be offered to workstation (similar to how they appear now, but governed by our servers and approval)
    • Updates will never be forced; individuals controlling exclusion machines will be responsible for updating.
    • If computers need to be excluded from power management changes, exclusion will also be necessary.

    All Computers - Power Management:The following are some power management changes we will be making in order to conserve power for the College

    • Send display to sleep after 20 minutes
    • Go to Standby after 90 minutes(almost no power used)

How can I request an exclusion?

Fill out the Exclusion Request Form. You will need to know the College Asset Tag number of each computer you wish to exclude (typically found on a green tag on the computer itself).

How can I volunteer to be a tester for these updates?

Email Amy Pearlman (apearlman@brynmawr.edu) and ask about becoming a tester. We will need an ongoing campus group who moves to these updates before they become available to the wider community.