Engineering Computing Help Desk E2-1308A
Faculty and staff in Engineering may use our Help Line, x36932.
Undergraduates should direct questions regarding computer hardware and software to Help Desk consultants, located in E2-1308A, x33524. We can best serve you in person. These will be routed to the appropriate staff member(s) if necessary.
Our purpose is to provide assistance to users of computing resources supplied by Engineering Computing in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Waterloo. The Help Desk is the first place to come for help with Waterloo Nexus and Unix accounts and software. Our user base includes students, staff and faculty.
Each department in Engineering and specific research groups may also supply additional computing resources. While we can provide general assistance on most software-related problems relating to these additional resources, we cannot provide assistance with hardware or account administration for equipment we do not control. Users of departmental or research computing equipment will be directed, if necessary, to technical support staff in their department or research group. We can also direct users to the right place to get help with problems beyond our jurisdiction (for example to appropriate IST personnel).
Who We Are:
The Engineering Computing Help Desk is the central location for user support in the Faculty of Engineering. The Help Desk is staffed by a full-time consultant and several part-time graduate students and co-op students. Together, we bring a wide range of experience to the job of helping users. The Help Desk is the first place to come for help with Waterloo Nexus and Unix accounts and software.
Where to Find Us and Other Means of Contact:
The Help Desk is located on the 1st floor of Engineering 2 in E2-1308A
and is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. We believe that we can serve you most effectively in person, since it is often difficult to diagnose a problem without asking a few questions. We also often need to see some identification before we make any modifications to accounts or passwords.
We can be reached by phone at extension 33524
. Please note that we cannot return long distance calls.
For those students who are off campus, we will monitor the following email address: enghelpdesk-aT-engmail-DoT-uwaterloo-DoT-ca. Please identify yourself with your UW (Quest/WatIAM) user ID, explain clearly what the problem is, including any error messages that you get. Never
include your password in an email!
Help with Faculty of Engineering's Computing Resources (by Topic):
User ID / Account Creation
New undergraduate students should just be able to log in with their WatIAM
user ID and password (same as used for the Quest student information system). New graduate students need to create their accounts using the New User
web page, which is also available on the log-in browser on Nexus lab workstations running Windows XP.
For visiting scholars, post doctoral fellows, and new faculty and staff, we must create accounts manually. Please see your own academic department's computer technician to get your account.
Your Nexus password can be changed over the Web
. Otherwise, for security reasons, you must visit the IST Help Desk (MC-1052) in person, with photo ID
to have a password changed.
Please try to choose a password you can remember. uWaterloo requires you to use upper and lower case characters as well as some numbers and non-alphabetic characters to make it difficult to guess.
Nexus File Server (ecfile1)
Your personal data files are stored on a faculty file server called ecfile1
, which is mounted as drive N on your Nexus account. There is a disk quota (currently 2 GB per user) on ecfile1. If you reach this quota limit you will be prevented from writing to the N drive, resulting in possible data loss. Please do not store files on the computer desktop. These will end up in your profile space (see below), not on your N drive. Files stored on the desktop may be lost
, if the log-off process is interrupted for some reason and are not stored in a safe place until you log off. It is much better to store your files directly on your N drive.
Courses and projects using particular software sometimes require increased storage space for large data files. The quota is not generally increased on an individual basis. Instructors should arrange to have their class's quotas temporarily increased in this situation, by notifying the consulting office.
Files stored on ecfile1
, the faculty file server(N:), are backed up daily, but are not
user-accessible. If you need files restored from scheduled backups, please inquire at the consulting office (E2-1308A).
Remote File Access
You can easily get at your files from any computer with a web browser via the Waterloo Nexus portal
. Log in with your Nexus user ID and password, then click on the File Manager
icon. Only one file can be transferred at at time.
If you need to transfer multiple files, you can do so by connecting to sftp.eng.uwaterloo.ca
using a ''secure file transfer'' application such as PuTTY
(a freeware application).
Nexus Profile Server (ecfile2)
What is my Nexus profile ?
Your Nexus profile is where your Nexus desktop and other Nexus customizations are stored. It is stored on a separate server from your home directory (N drive), with a separate (smaller) disk quota of 30 MB. Your data files should not be stored on the desktop.
There may not be enough space to properly store data files. If the log-out process should have an error, you will lose your files, since they will not be permanently stored on our server. They will remain on the C drive of the workstation you were last on, but only until the nightly clean-up process runs to clean private files from the workstation.
Why is my Nexus profile over quota ?
Some applications programs store information in the profile. There may be cases where some users need additional profile space. However, in most cases it is caused when users store files on their Desktop. This causes poor login performance because the entire profile is copied to the local hard disk upon every login. You will also not have remote access to any files stored on your desktop, e.g. via the Waterloo Nexus portal
. Also, any files stored on the desktop are vulnerable to permanent loss until you've logged off successfully (see previous point).
If you have stored files on your Desktop, remove them and store them on your home directory. To access your profile from Nexus, map a drive letter to the following network path:
Move the files from the windows2000\Desktop folder to a folder on your N drive. You must also remove them from the desktop on your workstation by deleting them, or they will be stored in your profile again
Reset Your Profile
Your Waterloo Nexus account stores user modifications to Windows on a special profile server (ecfile2). Most account problems occur when the user profile becomes corrupted, perhaps because you've run out of your allotted space on the server.
If you are having trouble logging in to your Nexus account, you can try resetting your Nexus profile. In order to do this, log off
, then look on the log-in browser for Reset Profile
. Then log in to a workstation that you have not logged into that day. If you need assistance, or the problem remains, please go to the Help Desk (E2-1308A) to have your account fixed.
Remote Access to Software
Only certain software is licensed for remote access.
Waterloo Nexus Software
: Windows terminal servers called engterm.uwaterloo.ca
are available to serve certain applications, such as Matlab
. Access to Engterm is restricted to Engineering students.
Engterm can be accessed in the Nexus domain from computers via a Windows Terminal Services client. Note that software on Engterm is generally licensed for academic course work only. Grad students doing research work should be using equipment and software supplied by your own research group or department.
Running X-Windows Applications Remotely
: Due to network security measures on campus, X-windows traffic is being blocked by our firewall rules. X-windows applications may still be run remotely, however, by ''tunnelling'' X-windows sessions through the encrypted SSH protocol. This sounds complicated, but it's simple to do.
On Waterloo Nexus workstations:
- configure the SSH Secure Shell Client program (Start/Programs/Internet Tools/SSH Secure Shell/Secure Shell Client) by going into Edit/Settings and do these things:
- Under Profile Settings, select Tunneling and check the box that says ''Tunnel X11 connections''.
- Under Authentication, move Password to the top of the list.
- Click OK and File/Save Settings
- You may then run X Windows applications remotely by this two-step process:
- Start X Windows in passive mode, simply by running Start/Programs/Internet Tools/Cygwin StartXWin
- Start the SSH Secure Shell Client as above and connect to the remote Unix machine. Run the X-Windows application from the SSH command line and the X application will start in its own window.
From Linux workstations:
- Use the
ssh command in a command shell and use the
-X option to enable X tunneling to the remote host.
Your Email Address
: Mail sent directly to your_userid
@your_mailserver.uwaterloo.ca will always get to you. In most cases, people can also send mail to your_userid
@uwaterloo.ca. This address relies on the WatIAM
(database) to forward the mail to the address it has stored in its email field. If, when you register, you select not to have your name appear in WatIAM?
, then mail sent to your_userid
@uwaterloo.ca will not
be delivered. You can only permanently change this selection at the Registrar's Office. You can change your WatIAM?
email field by logging in via the WatIAM Web page
, or from the Waterloo Nexus portal
Mail Storage Limits
: Each undergraduate user is limited to 1 gigabyte
of permanent storage on Mailservices, the campus email server.
Getting and Sending Mail from Off Campus
: The simplest way to read mail from off campus is to use the Waterloo Nexus portal
. You should use one or the other of these and not both, since some settings such as email filters are not interchangeable.
: Official mail from the University will be addressed to your on-campus account. If you forward it elsewhere, we are not responsible for its loss.
: The University uses SpamAssassin
for spam filtering. Use the Mailservices page
to configure the handling to your liking, through the !SpamAssassin
tool. Spam filtering is enabled by default
Printing from Engineering accounts is described in the printing
Personal Home Pages
Creating Your Web Page on www.eng
: You get a home page on the Web on Engineering's Web server, www.eng.uwaterloo.ca
, when you create your Waterloo Nexus account. Just place your Web pages in the *public_html
folder on your N drive*. Your Web address (URL) is: http://www.eng.uwaterloo.ca/~your_userid
Editing Your Web Page on www.eng
: You can use the NVU HTML editor (or any of the word processors) to edit your default Web page. Your default home page must be called
Other Ways of Accessing Your Web Page on www.eng
: FTP is disallowed from off campus, except through the Waterloo Nexus portal
(encrypted via SSL). If you want to move more than one file at a time, you can use a secure FTP client (such as PuTTY?
) to connect to sftp.eng.uwaterloo.ca.
Setting Up Scripts
: You can run Common Gateway Interface (CGI) scripts on your Web account. These may be written in Perl or any other language. Place your script in a directory called "cgi-bin". Make sure your script works by running it by itself (on sftp.eng.uwaterloo.ca), and make sure it has public read and execute permissions. From your Web page access your script with the following URL: http://www.eng.uwaterloo.ca/cgi-bin/cgiwrap/your_userid/your_script_name
. This makes the script run as your user ID. PHP is also available on www.eng for server-side scripting purposes.
Other Help Desk Services:
Electronic Class Lists
The Quest system is available to instructors for self-serve class list generation
Waterloo Nexus Calendar Items
Items may be added to the Waterloo Nexus Calendar for any UW related event by using a web form
Software Recommendations From Our Consultants:
IST and Engineering Computing have put a lot of effort into evaluating and pursuing site licenses
for software that we believe is useful for scientific computing applications. Some of our license agreements allow students to use a copy at home while they are registered, or allow students to purchase their own copies at a significant discount. Most site licensed software is available on the Waterloo Nexus network, and/or on UW Unix hosts. We encourage you to explore the software available to you. For some notes and courses on scientific computing software
, see the Skills for the Academic Workplace
site. What follows are some recommendations for software to use for various tasks. Please provide us with your feedback at email@example.com
on what works for you!
: Most research or project work requires some kind of programming to test out a methodology or conduct a simulation. Traditional languages such as C(++) or Fortran will do the job, but you will have to either write your own numerical subroutines, or rely on libraries, such as those supplied by NAG. Your code will also take you a while to write and debug when you could be thinking about the problem you are working on.
There are two software packages that are worth the effort to learn for anyone doing programming tasks: Matlab
. Both of these packages are interpreted, high level languages. Matlab is primarily a numerical computation environment, with extensive plotting capabilities. Maple is primarily a symbolic computation environment with plotting capabilities. Both have links to the other. A typical use might be to use Maple to derive your mathematical model in general mathematical terms, then use Matlab to solve it numerically for specific operating conditions. Both Maple and Matlab have huge libraries of functions which make it possible to do a lot with a little code. Also, it is possible to export Maple and Matlab code to compileable C(++) or Fortran.
: It is possible to use a standard word processor such as MS Word
to write a thesis or large technical document. But, if you have a lot of mathematics and a lot of tables and figures, you are very likely to run into problems, and these usually happen when the document is very large and you need to print it.
The recommended alternative to word processors is *LaTeX*
, a document formatting system originally developed for Unix, but now available on all computing platforms. LaTeX uses plain text source files and formatting tags (similar to HTML). The document is typeset by passing the source file to the LaTeX processing program.
The main advantages of LaTeX are: small portable source files, easy handling of all sorts of numbered structures (tables, figures, references, sections, etc.), access to every conceivable mathematical symbol.
LaTeX is generally available on campus under Unix. There are also free versions available for PC and other computing platforms.
For some notes on learning LaTeX, visit IST Notes
: Both Maple
have extensive plotting capabilities that are adequate for most jobs. We recommend saving your plots as Encapsulated Postscript (EPS) files and "insert"-ing them into your word processor documents, rather than cutting-and-pasting. This keeps your document smaller and keeps the figure in a scalable (resize-able) format that won't lose resolution.
Links to Other UW Computing Documentation:
UW Information Systems and Technology department
(free short courses, open to UW community)
IST Computer Help and Information Place (CHIP)
Site Licensed Software
University Committee on Information Systems & Technology
UW Computing Directives and Related Documents
- 02 Sep 2011