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Information Systems Increases Athena Disk Quotas One-Third

By May K. Tse
Staff Reporter

On Tuesday, the Athena disk quota allotted for students was raised by one third, from 15 megabytesto 20 megabytes.

The Athena disk quota is the maximum amount of data students are allowed to have stored in their personal Athena directories.

"We have just upgraded our servers and added additional disk capacity,"said Naomi B. Schmidt, manager of educational planning and support for Information Systems.

The last time there was an increase in the Athena disk quota was in summer 1997, when there was an increase from 12.5 megabytes to 15 megabytes. In April 1996, the quota was increased from 10 megabytes to 12.5 megabytes.

The reasons behind these disk quota increases were similarly due to a continuing process on the part of I/S to increase quota gradually over time, as disks became cheaper and people require more memory for their applications.

However, the quota increase has some other implications. "We have some complex issues ahead of us in terms of what the environment should look like. We recognize that disks are getting cheap but what should be essentially provided and managed? We need more effective use of local storage, not just central storage," said M.S. Vijay Kumar, director of academic computing for Information Systems.

Kumar described the increasing demand for memory. "People keep web page stuff in their directories and lockers. This is a step in the right direction but also obviously not, because with more image-based applications and more web-based applications you automatically think about the fact that people have to store larger amounts of data."

"You have to think about using it much better, what kinds of things will move to the user, how will you use scratch space locally, instead of holding and keeping everything centrally,"he said.

I/Splans to add software

In addition to increasing student disk quotas on Athena, I/S is looking at increasing the number of software packages on Athena. "We are continually making new software available on Athena, most often in response to specific requests from faculty for packages that are useful in their teaching of particular subjects,"Schmidt said.

Schmidt pointed out examples of possible software additions to Athena in the future. "One such package that has been widely requested and that we hope to install as soon as we can work out license wording is Real Audio. We are also in the process of negotiating an MITsite license for GIS[Geographic Information Systems] software from a company called ESRI,"she said.

Dorm computing reviewed by I/S

In addition to making changes on Athena, I/Shas also been considering ways of increasing the Athena presence in the dormitories. "It has become clear that the experiment to place Quickstations in five [dormitories] this fall has been a success, and we are holding conversations with various housemasters to increase this number somewhat" during Independent Activities Period, Schmidt said.

New House, Next House, Random Hall, MacGregor House, and Baker House currently house Quickstations. Schmidt said that I/S is looking at space and facility constraints in other dormitories at this time for future Quickstations.

Schmidt said that I/S would be looking in the future at the effectiveness of the full Athena clusters in McCormick Hall and Burton Conner House introduced this term.

I/Scampaigns to educate users

Besides adding new software and hardware to Athena, I/S has been involved in campaigns to help educate users of the computer system.

Since Athena printer quotas were abolished a few years ago, printing on Athena has increased drastically. I/S is currently conducting a "Don't be a Printer Hog" campaign to educate users to eliminate excess printing.

I/S is also trying to inform students about the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol. "This is the ability for a student to take a laptop or other portable computer and connect it up to MITnet anywhere there is a public network jack, as long as this computer has a static IP address and has been registered for DHCP," Schmidt said.