CSAIL’s user database, INQUIR
INQUIR is the central CSAIL user account database. CSAIL users can update their account data (and those of any supervisees) using WebINQUIR (CSAIL Login required).
Note: HQ’s database of CSAIL members, Peeps, is currently managed separately. Current members are listed at https://www.csail.mit.edu/people . Please consult CSAIL HQ’s HR staff if modifications are necessary.
Through WebINQUIR, users may:
- edit their own data – including shell, phone number, office location, PGP key
- search for users by name
In addition, supervisors should use WebINQUIR to:
- approve new account requests
- renew expiring accounts
- edit supervisees’ data – including Relation (Undergraduate/Graduate Student, …)
All actions are logged; audit trails are mailed to supervisors and other administrators every 5 minutes.
INQUIR is currently implemented as a PostgreSQL database though its history dates back through many incarnations to at least the days of ITS on DEC PDP-6 and PDP-10 systems.
It is used to map people to user-names, UIDs and groups as well as being
authoritative for email forwarding and homepage URL so that
http://www.csail.mit.edu/~YourUserName will be directed to the website
of your choosing which could be a CSAIL hosted personal page or any
other website of your choosing.
You can view your inquir entry from a Unix system such as the CSAIL
login server by typing
whois -h inquir.csail.mit.edu <username> at
the command prompt. You can also
The original INQUIR was written by PDP-10 hackers in the late 1970s for
managing user accounts on our ITS and TOPS-20 machines. The second
version was written some time in the late 1980s by LCS staff as the
PDP-10s were being replaced by VAXen running 4.3BSD; this version was
ported to SunOS by Net Daemons Associates around 1991. Garrett Wollman
wrote the third version in 1999 as a part of Y2K preparedness (and also
to speed along the demise of Kerberos v4 authentication, which the old
VAX/Sun program and its Emacs-based user interface used); it was the
first to have a relational-database back-end, and its user interface was
primarily written in Perl. INQUIR 3.0 accumulated numerous ad-hoc CGI
hacks over the years to provide some level of Web accessibility, but the
primary user interface remained a crufty old Perl script,
The current implementation maintains the same database back-end as its
predecessor, with a few small schema changes, but replaces the existing
moldering scripts with a new http://rubyonrails.org/