Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

CIRC drives to repair GW’s e-mail services

GW’s Computer Information Resource Center shut down the GWIS2 e-mail system late Tuesday night with the assistance of Sun Microsystems to fix lingering problems with drives and space.

CIRC shut down the system after examining a series of issues affecting the department earlier Tuesday.

“(Tuesday night attempted) to remove the corrupted file system,” said Greg Ferguson, UNIX system administrator. “Our goal is to resolve e-mail (as soon as possible).”

CIRC Director Brad Reese said many elements were fixed Tuesday, but the system may need to be shut down again in the future.

“As of (Wednesday), things were much better,” Reese said. “We think we may still have some problems, but they don’t seem to be nearly as serious.”

CIRC experienced various glitches after trying to improve the system earlier this semester.

“On Jan. 22, when we started the initial migration, the migration went through,” Ferguson said. After the initial migration, however, the system crashed within 15 minutes. He said CIRC then reverted to the old system.

Ferguson said CIRC attempted to install the new system again during the first week of February.

“That time, it went smoother, and we learned how not to have problems with swap space,” Ferguson said.

CIRC encountered serious problems with the new system last Wednesday at 3 p.m.

“We had become cycled in an endless mail loop with an elementary school in Virginia,” Ferguson said. “We isolated the problem and once again brought the system down and back up.”

The new system continued to have problems after the development of a soft failure with the drive. Ferguson said a soft failure is when the computer recognizes a problem with the drive and stops using the part with the problem.

“Unfortunately, the part that had the problem was the part we use for everybody’s inbox,” said Ferguson, who also said security of inboxes was not threatened.

Although the problem first affected only users who employ a post office protocol, he said CIRC wanted to fix the problem.

CIRC Assistant Director P.B. Garrett said a post office protocol is a mail client that allows people to access their inbox.

Ferguson said CIRC usually sends an e-mail to everyone to announce system maintenance, but sending that many e-mails could have exacerbated the problem this time.

Ferguson said system stress occurs when many users employ a single medium to check e-mail, such as using PINE or Webmail.

“We have brought one engineer into the system from Sun to work on the problem,” said Ferguson, who also said these engineers are specialists in their respective fields.

To provide updates to students, CIRC maintains a virtual help desk at In addition, updates are available by calling 994-5530 and choosing option three.

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