Requesting assistance

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If you need help with something, whether it be a problem on your local workstation in Peyton Hall or something related to the network, it's simple to do.


What to say

It's NOT sufficient to say "I can't see a disk" or "I have no home directory" without also giving information such as which disk you can't see, and which machine you tried to view it from. If you tried on three machines, list all three and what happened there. If your neighbor tried from the same three and had no trouble, mention that as well. Without a clear report of what the problem is, what you did to elicit the incorrect behavior and from where you did it, your problem report may be glossed over as either incorrect, or will require a reply to get the additional information from you. "The network's broken" doesn't say nearly as much as "I can't reach or, but have no trouble with and" does.

Via email

Send an email to help@astro, which goes into our trouble ticketing system. You will get an automatic reply, with information about the ticket that was generated.


Please do not email any of the systems administrators directly. They do occasionally take vacations, and if your email goes directly to them than whomever is available to help will not know you need any assistance. By using the ticketing system, you ensure that more than one person sees your request (and there's a record that you asked, so nobody is as likely to delete the mail by accident and then not know you need a hand at all).

Once an administrator has taken ownership of the issue, they will respond to you through the Request Tracker software and you'll get an email back with any information.


Any and all correspondence related to that ticket should be done through the help@astro address, and by keeping the "[ #xxx]" part of the subject line intact! This is how the ticketing software knows that the email pertains to an issue that already exists in the system, and doesn't generate a new ticket for the issue.

In some cases, such as "Do you have a recent Fedora CD?", generating a trouble ticket might seem to be overkill when a simple email would suffice. However, this system keeps things running smoothly from the point of the administrators, and even simple emails like that are fine. For one, the email will go to all the administrators, and whomever responds to it can take ownership of the problem (meaning they're going to take care of it) so multiple people don't try to solve the same issue simultaneously. Also, when the issue is resolved, it leaves behind a series of notes that can be used to fix similar problems in the future, or at least show who solved the problem in the past. And in the case of the user asking for a CD, now everyone involved knows that someone did get a CD to you, and also if it needs to be returned then it's known who borrowed it.

After hours

You can send mails to help@astro at any time, day or night. We tend to look over the emails there on nights and weekends as well, and if it's a more serious issue we'll do our best to resolve it remotely.

Emergency contacts

Should there be some kind of emergency (or, for example, email is down - in which case, sending us an email is quite silly and useless), you can also call us directly. When you call, please have all information available - what you see as the problem, what (if anything) you've done to try to fix it, from which machine(s) you see the problem, and when you first noticed something wrong. Chances are fairly good that we may not answer the phone when you call - especially if we're still fumbling for the phone in the middle of the night - so be prepared to leave a detailed message, and include a number where you can be reached if we need to call you back. We may reply via email (if possible) too.

  • Steve Huston: (267) 793-0852
  • Leigh Koven:
These numbers are also posted on the door to the server room (030).
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