Campuses Get Computer Upgrades

Portland, Missoula, Billings on new network

By: Becky St. Clair

Top: The new computers in use in the Portland campus library. Bottom: The loaded mini-van ready for the trip back to College Place.

WWU’s Portland campus received a major computer upgrade this month.

Gary Rittenbach, Director of Academic Computing, Paul Harvey, Network Manager, and Dinyero Johnson, a WWU student, upgraded all 42 computers on the Portland campus.  The computers were 4 years old, and were switched out for brand new Dell Optiplex 755 computers with 20-inch flat-screen monitors.  

Also upgraded were the server hardware and software.  The Portland campus was still on the old Novell network, and is now on the Microsoft network which the College Place campus upgraded to last year.  

“We had planned on a week and a half to get the job done,” says Rittenbach, “but we finished it in four very long days.”

The old computers brought back from the Portland campus were upgraded from 512MB to 2.5GB and will become the new Engineering Linux Lab.  WWU’s School of Engineering has been running special Engineering software on 8-year-old Sun workstations running the Solaris operating system.  The new computers will run the same software, but on a more standard Linux operating system.

In addition to new computers, Portland was also supplied with several new printers to replace their very old ones.

Rittenbach was pleasantly surprised to find that all 42 computers and keyboards (the old CRT monitors were donated to a non-profit in Portland) fit into the back of a rental mini-van with the rear seats removed.

“I was careful not to go over the speed limit,” says Rittenbach with a laugh.  “I didn’t want to have to explain to a state trooper why I was carrying forty-two computers.”

Portland isn’t the only WWU satellite receiving upgrades.  Harvey and Rittenbach will be traveling to Missoula and Billings in mid-September to install new server hardware and software.  This will enable the two campuses to operate on the new Microsoft network, as well, upgrading them from Novell.  This requires them to re-image all the computers.

Since Rittenbach and his crew only visit WWU’s satellite campuses once a year during the summer, they implement a special system that allows them to re-image the computers in an automated way whenever a computer has problems.

Although WWU’s Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory does not have permanent computers, Rittenbach travels there twice each summer: once at the beginning of summer session to install a server and 14 computers, and once at the end of the 8-week summer session to pack them up and haul them back to College Place.

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