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Pool Linux - Introduction


Pool GNU/Linux (or Pool Linux) is managed by the Computing Pool and incorporates Ubuntu 10.10 LTS, Kubuntu and Xubuntu (all of which heavily depend on Debian GNU/Linux) into one distribution. Research groups that use GNU/Linux on computers that are managed by the Computing Pool can have their own flavour of Pool Linux installed.

Flavours of Pool Linux

A major distinction between some research groups' flavours of Pool Linux is which server is used for authentication. The ultimate aim is for all research groups in the MOTT Network to use the Mott Filestore for authenticating users, but right now three sets of servers are used:

  • SPZ, for SP and TFM;
  • Surfserver, for SMF Surface; and
  • the Mott Filestore, under development.

When you are presented with the login screen (pictured, and varies with each set of authentication servers), all Pool Linux installations will give you a choice of at least the following three desktop environments:

Although all of the application programs from one desktop environment can be used in all of the others, the environments themselves do behave differently and you may get on with one more than the others. Wikipedia has a useful article on their differences.

Management of Pool Linux

All Pool Linux installations are managed by a Puppet infrastructure, which allows machines within a research group (or sub–research-group) to be as identically configured as possible and reduces the time needed to maintain each machine. In particular,

  • installed software packages are kept consistent between machines,
  • software is automatically updated and configured, and
  • a build system can build and re-build computers within hours.

As the list of installed software packages is managed with Puppet, requests for additional software to be installed need to go to the Computing Pool. See the management page for more details.

Changes between older GNU/Linux installations and Pool Linux

Practically all of the software has been upgraded between older Ubuntu installations (the SRIF machines used by SP and TFM, and the atscats in Surface Physics) and we have some specific advice for GNOME and KDE users.

Known bugs in Pool Linux

In the interests of self-help, the following bugs have solutions and/or workarounds on the Pool wiki. If you encounter any other bugs that are interfering with your work then please raise a support ticket by emailing<code>.