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 Library & Information Technology 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?
- 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
- 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 Microsoft).
- It is possible to retrieve and apply upgrades when off-campus.
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.
All Computers - Power Management:
The following are some power management changes we will be making in order to conserve power for the College
How can I request an exclusion?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 (email@example.com) 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.