October 18, 2007
Vol. 27 No. 3

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    Every wired computer must be set for new domain name servers

    By Steve Koppes
    News Office

    Every computer device on campus that has a wired Internet connection will need to be adjusted for the University’s new Domain Name Servers before Networking Services & Information Technologies retires the old Name Servers Wednesday, Oct. 31.

    “The new equipment is faster, more reliable and more secure,” said Therese Allen-Vassar, Senior Director of Client Relations for NSIT. “It was necessary to install this new equipment to make all of those good things happen, but it does require this one-time change.”

    NSIT urges all faculty and staff members to log on to http://test.dns.uchicago.edu as soon as possible to ensure that their computer settings have been configured for the change.

    “Your computer will actually cease to communicate with the network on Oct. 31st unless you have these settings changed,” Allen-Vassar said. “That’s a pretty big consequence for most people. We want to be sure that they don’t experience that kind of trouble.”

    The move follows in the wake of more than two years of planning and preparations at NSIT and with technical support staff campuswide.

    Many local technical support personnel already have made the setting changes for their departments. When faculty and staff members in those departments log onto the test page, they will receive a “Successfully tested your DNS configuration” message.

    “That’s the best scenario of all,” Allen-Vassar said. “You didn’t have to do anything. It was taken care of in the background for you and everything’s fine.”

    If the log-on test is unsuccessful, then local technical support staffers can help. Users who do not have local technical support or who are having trouble following the instructions on the support page at http://support.uchicago.edu/dns-update, may contact technical support services at 834-TECH.

    More than 20,000 campus nodes may be affected by the new DNS.

    “A node could be a computer, it could be a printer, it could be a piece of the network itself,” said Corey Liss, NSIT’s Director of Software Support and Training. “We have in excess of 10,000 machines of one kind or another on the network. This isn’t counting people on wireless.”

    All desktop and laptop computers, servers and even printers with advanced features that use DNS must have their settings adjusted. Otherwise, users will experience a service interruption when the new system is tested on Wednesday, Oct. 24, and when the final switch to the new DNS occurs a week later.

    There is no way to test printers using the Web page. “You actually have to tell it to print out its configuration and check what its configuration is,” Liss said.

    Laptop computers must be tested on campus. “Doing it from home will succeed, unless your configuration is completely wrong,” he said.

    The University initially operated multiple servers with different Internet addresses that acted independently, which hindered network reliability. “Over time they have been consolidated onto two machines, but there are still all of these addresses floating out there,” Liss said.

    “We’re moving to a system that involves multiple servers masquerading as two servers,” he said. But there will be only two addresses, each with more than two servers backing them up. “If one server goes down, there’s another server with the same address that will just pick up the load,” Liss said.