CLAS Linux Group Linux Support Policy

This page describes the policies for service and support of Linux computers used by faculty and staff in the departments of in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  The CLAS Linux Group which is tasked with providing support to these departments provides three computer support options:  “self-administered”, “self-administered with default CLAS Linux Group load”, “CLAS Linux Group administered”.  These options are defined as follows:

  • On self-administered computers, software installation, configuration and all software maintenance are the responsibility of the primary user.
  • On self-administered with default CLAS Linux Group load machines, CLAS Linux Group will attempt to put a default load on the machine and then turn over administrative duties to the primary user.  Administrative duties are defined as software installation, configuration, software and OS management.
  • On CLAS Linux Group-administered machines, all CLAS Linux Group approved software, maintenance and configuration are provided by the CLAS Linux Group.

Summary of Services

Summary of Services
Self-administered Self-administered with default CLAS Linux Group​ load CLAS Linux Group​-administered
​Primary user is responsible for system, peripherals, applications, security, and maintenance. ​Primary user is responsible for system, peripherals, applications, security, and maintenance. CLAS Linux Group responsible for system, applications, security, updates and software licensing.
​Primary user must install and maintain all software. CLAS Linux Group to provide image-based initial load.  Primary user must install and maintain all software thereafter. CLAS Linux Group installs and updates supported software defined later in the document.
Repair or recovery by user not by CLAS Linux Group. Repair or recovery by user not by CLAS Linux Group.  CLAS Linux Group can re-image up to twice a year or by request of DEO. Repair or recovery by CLAS Linux Group using best available methods.


All users must adhere to the University of Iowa Acceptable Use Policies as published at  Any activities performed on the computer that violate the University of Iowa Acceptable Use Policies may result in loss of network access. 

The CLAS Linux Group places priority on the stability, reliability, security, and concurrency of the computer configurations and software installations.  The CLAS Linux Group has limited resources and will support only one version of the RedHat/Cent OS Linux/Fedora operating system.  Dual boot machines and laptops are not supported by CLAS Linux Group due to complexity and availability issues.  For a system to qualify for support, it must be approved by the CLAS Linux Group and satisfy RedHat’s or Fedora’s published minimum system requirements for the supported version of RedHat Linux or Fedora.

When the CLAS Linux Group updates the version of Linux it supports, all CLAS Linux Group-administered computers will be re-evaluated to determine eligibility for support.  To maintain their support status, users may be required to upgrade their computer systems.  If the system is not properly upgraded, the CLAS Linux Group will drop support of the system.  The CLAS Linux Group will give users at least two months notice about required upgrades before dropping support.


The following services are provided to Linux computer users of:

CLAS Linux Group-administered hardware

  1. Access to files on the network file server(s) using methods normally available in the Linux operating system (NFS access).
  2. Electronic mail access.
  3. Access to departmental network, office printers and software.
  4. Assistance diagnosing hardware issues and arranging warranty service for systems still covered under warranty.
  5. Monitoring, patching and security of the OS.

Self-administered with default CLAS Linux Group load

  1. Access to files on the network file server(s) using smbmount.  NFS access is by request only and has other terms and conditions not discussed in this document.
  2. Electronic mail access.
  3. Access and configuration to departmental network, office printers and software (see the software table in the next section) as provided on CLAS Linux Group-administered machines. 
  4. No updates to software applications.  The workstation can be scheduled twice a year to be completely re-imaged.  The user will be responsible for any data migration and preservation of any customizations.
  5. OS patching.  CLAS Linux Group can, by request, apply OS patches.  Patches may break configuration files or user modified applications.  Patches may not install properly if the user has installed their own RPM’s.  If conflicts arise, it will be the user’s responsibility to work through these issues not CLAS Linux Group’s.
  6. Fixed IP assignment via statically assigned DHCP address.

Self-administered hardware

  1. Linux computers have access to the CLAS Linux Group maintained print queues, electronic mail and network file servers via smbmount.  NFS access is by request only and has other terms and conditions not discussed in this document.  It is the responsibility of the user to setup and maintain access to these services, not that of the CLAS Linux Group.

Not supported

The following services are not provided to any Linux computer user:

  1. Off warranty hardware repairs.
  2. Backup of local hard drives.  Users are strongly urged to save all data onto the CLAS Linux Group file server which is backed up nightly.  CLAS Linux Group discourages saving any data to the local hard drive.  The CLAS Linux Group will not be able to repair or restore local files in the case of hardware failure or system problem.  The CLAS Linux group will work with the research to find the most cost effective way to backup the users research data.  See the Backup/Restore policy for more details.

CLAS Linux Group-administered Services and Conditions

Stability, reliability, security and concurrency of software guide how the CLAS Linux Group manages computers.   Therefore, on CLAS Linux Group-administered workstations, CLAS Linux Group will have sole administrative rights to the workstation (i.e., the user does not get the administrator password or privileges).  Users who wish to be able to install their own software that must run as root or require root privileges for installation should consider the self-administered support option.  The CLAS Linux Group may choose to repair or maintain CLAS Linux Group-administered machines by reformatting the hard drive and/or reinstalling the necessary files. 


  1. Operating system updates, upgrades, and emergency patches on a regular basis.
  2. Configuration of network connected printers.
  3. Configuration of pine mail client.
  4. Configuration of networked storage and access to user’s home account.
  5. Installation and maintenance of college-related software.  The college related software is software approved by the Computing Advisory Committee (CAC).  The CAC is typically composed of the DEO from each department plus the CLAS Linux Group Director.

The table of installed Linux client application software can be found at Table of Installed Applications and the table of development software can be found at Table of Installed Development Software.

Not Supported

  1. Peripherals and add-on cards.
  2. Exceptions:  CLAS Linux Group will spend up to 30 minutes to install and configure the software for each of these devices:
    • scanners
    • local printers
    • upgraded graphics cards for the sole purpose of improved graphics performance (i.e. not video importing, etc.)
    • pointing devices that replace a mouse, but not additional pointing devices (for example, digitizing pads are not supported)
  3. Non-scheduled changes to CLAS Linux Group supplied software.  Software will normally be updated before each fall and spring semester as necessary.  Note that due to the time required to prepare software for installation, the installed version may be older than the version available at the time of installation.
  4. Installation of games and other non DEO approved software. 

Self-administered & self-administered with default CLAS Linux Group load Services and Conditions

The faculty/staff member is the system administrator and is responsible for the installation and maintenance of the operating system, all software and security of the system and associated network usage.  Any activities performed on the computer that violate the University of Iowa Acceptable Use Policies will result in loss of network access.


  1. User is responsible for hardware, software, security and configuration.
  2. CLAS Linux Group will provide OS and site licensed software either by CD’s or a network share.  By request, CLAS Linux Group can attempt to install the current CLAS Linux Group managed load and then turn over root to the user at which point the machine becomes a self-administered machine. 
  3. The user can request CLAS Linux Group to automatically patch their self-managed machine when CLAS Linux Group patches the rest of the managed machines.  The user of the self-managed machine will need to agree to the following terms:
    • The machine must be running a CLAS Linux Group approved version of RedHat Workstation or Fedora.
    • The machine must be registered under CLAS Linux Group’s RedHat Network or subscribe to CLAS Linux Group’s yum repository.
    • The machine must allow RHN updates (rhnsd must be running and configured appropriately) and a csg_root ssh key.
    • The user agrees CLAS Linux Group is not responsible for any side effects from required security patching or other OS patching deemed critical by CLAS Linux Group.
    • The user is ultimately responsible for patching of their self-managed machine.  If the user has modified or installed RPM’s that conflict with RedHat’s or Fedora’s, then the patching will not be successful and the user will need to resolve these issues themselves.

Faculty and staff may change their support model to the CLAS Linux Group-administered service following each fall or spring semester or with DEO and CLAS Linux Group approval.