Servers for Computer Science Classes Shut Down; Students Unable to Complete Work

Servers used to host CS course websites and provide access to required operating systems were inaccessible from Thursday, January 12, to Friday, January 13, with subsequent system issues not being solved until Saturday.


Work space in the new Medial Arts, Data, and Design Center in Crerar

By Justin Walgren

Servers for computer science (CS) courses were inaccessible between the evening of Thursday, January 12 and the afternoon of Friday, January 13. Students were unable to access course websites or Linux servers, preventing them from completing or even accessing assignments.

Shishira Bhavimane, a third-year computer science major, ran into the issue Thursday night when she attempted to access the course website for one of her CS classes. Bhavimane explained that, rather than Canvas, most CS professors post their course materials to personal pages on a website called When she attempted to open the site for one of her courses on Thursday night, the page loaded for several minutes before ultimately stopping and presenting a “took too long to load” message.

Bhavimane did not remember the exact time she encountered the error, but other students reported that pages for their courses stopped working between 9 and 10 p.m.

Third-year Rohan Gupta reported that, in addition to the CS website, he was also unable to access his classes’ Linux servers.

A number of CS classes at the University require students to use Linux to run code. Those classes often provide access to servers that enable students to use Linux operating systems remotely. When those servers shut down on Thursday, students were unable to complete, or even access, their assignments.

Gupta said that he had managed to obtain a copy of his CS assignment before the site went down. However, without access to the University’s Linux servers, he was unable to finish it because he had no other way to run the code.

“If I can’t access Linux remotely, I really can’t do any of [my] work,” he said.

The unresponsive Linux servers also affected courses outside of the CS department. Gupta, for instance, is enrolled in an experimental physics course, and his inability to access Linux prevented him from completing an assignment for that class as well.

Bhavimane and Gupta both said that the classes.cs site and the Linux servers were accessible by noon on Friday. However, new issues arose with the restored servers that were not resolved until several hours later.

First-year Eliot Lajaunie said that although his class’s Linux servers were restored, the files containing his previous work did not appear on the site. Within individual class servers, students have their own files that they access with their CNetID. Those files were not present when he accessed the server. Additionally, some course-wide files were missing. “One of the main files for our class wasn’t there when the server was restored,” he said.

Lajaunie reported that his professor was able to recover the files in question by the end of Friday.

All students who spoke with The Maroon said that their professors accommodated the lost time caused by the server issues, either by making exceptions for some assignment components or granting extensions.

A CS department administrator privately told The Maroon that the servers went down because of a “hardware failure” and that new equipment has been installed to prevent similar issues in the future. The administrator also said that CS tech staff had been working individually with students who were still experiencing issues related to the server errors.

As of Thursday, January 26, The Maroon had not been made aware of any department-wide communications from the CS department explaining the issue to students.