System Administrators

DO NOT reboot or power off any of the CS open lab machines.

Only system administrators should reboot the machines.

Reasons for this policy include:

  • Other users could be logged into the workstations remotely.
  • System updates or administrative tasks could be running and a reboot would interrupt them and could break something.
  • Reboots can damage the hardware of the system.
  • We need to know the machine's current state to solve the problem.
  • We keep track of how often systems freeze or lock up so that we can identify hardware problems.
  • For security, an admin password is required to power on the machines.
    • In other words, if you power off a machine, an admin will need to go to it in person to power it up anyway.

The basic idea is that if a machine needs rebooting then there is a problem that the system administrators need to know about so that they can prevent its occurring again.

Before contacting the system administrators you should:

  • Check the system status monitor outside the system admins office for updates on issues currently affecting students.
  • Look for signs on the doorway or walls of the lab alerting you to current issues with the CS Department network.
  • Ask other people in the labs to see if they are also being affected similarly.
  • Ask a TA for your class. The system administrators are not TAs.
  • Try to solve the problem on your own using the suggestions in the next section.

As students in the Computer Science Department, you should learn to discover solutions to your own problems before asking the system administrators. If you can't find an adequate solution after trying these methods then the system administrators will be happy to help you.

Google is one of your best resources for finding answers to your questions.

There is also a club on campus known as the BYU Linux Club. They are experienced in using Linux and their leadership is always willing to help. You can find their website at

Post a question

Eric S. Raymond wrote a helpful set of instructions for getting your question answered; it is called "How To Ask Questions The Smart Way". We strongly suggest that you read it. This is a good resource, but it is not in any way affiliated with our department, and they are not a helpdesk for the CS Department here at BYU.

If you have a technical issue please submit a ticket at, and include as many details as possible. If you need in-person assistance you can find us in room 1140 in the TMCB. Our hours are generally 8-5 M-F, but some days may have different hours.

What information do you need to supply?

Problems that system administrators don't know about, or can't reproduce, can't be fixed. When you submit a ticket to the system administrators, you should give them the following information:

  • Your CS username. (Student ID Card may be required for some things.)
  • The name of the computer you were using, or attempted to use.
  • The name of the program in question.
  • A description of what you were doing when the problem occurred.
  • A description of any error messages you received. Provide the exact text of the error or a screenshot you took whenever possible.
  • A way that we can contact you: a phone number or email address. Only provide an email address that you can use.


Do not give anyone your password. We don't need it to access your account, and we can always change it if we think that your password is the problem.

If you need to reset your password, then you must submit a support ticket at (for verification purposes, include your Net ID, ID number, and birth date)

What if they are not there?

Do not reboot the machine! Simply send them a ticket and, if possible, lock the console of the machine.

The administration of the CS Department gets a lot of comments and suggestions. Though the system administrators enjoy feedback, and especially appreciate well-thought-out ideas, they do not make the decisions which determine the policies of the department. The best way to make a change in the department policies is to ask a professor to present the idea to the department administration. If you insist on bringing the idea to the relatively powerless system administrators, please follow these rules. If they haven't heard your idea a dozen times before, they might pass it on to their boss.

Before you give such comments or suggestions:

  • Read the documentation in this wiki first.
  • Be prepared for an answer of “no”.
  • Be prepared for an answer of “we have considered that, and decided against it.”
  • Be prepared to leave should the system administrators need to help someone else.

If the system administrator with whom you are speaking gets defensive, looks annoyed, or appears busy, then your suggestion will probably not be well received and you should find a more effective method of getting your ideas heard. Topics which are sure to annoy the system administrators include (but are not limited to):

  • Can I borrow your office product?
  • Can you find my TA?
  • Can you raise my quota?
  • Can I use your phone?
  • Why can't I eat in the labs?
  • Why aren't the labs open all night?
  • Why can't I play games in the labs?
  • Will you install . . .?
  • Why can't I plug my personal hardware device into your network?
  • I lost a file, can you restore it?

We have tried to answer these questions in our online documentation, and are not empowered to change the network at a user's request. You should discuss such things with the Department Chair.

  • system-administrators.txt
  • Last modified: 2021/10/07 14:43
  • by jareddev