Servers, Workstations, and Hardware

New Servers

If you’re setting up a new server (or considering setting up a new server) please see Best practices for setting up and managing new servers before making any purchase or decisions.

You must contact TIG before purchasing any server or desktop machine to make sure TIG can support it.

Alienware and other “gaming” brands, as well as custom user-built PCs, can have significant issues running Linux. TIG will provide no support for these machines under any circumstances. You are welcome to buy and use them, and try to install CSAIL Linux on your own, but TIG does not have the capacity to troubleshoot non-standard PC configurations.

Contact TIG if you’re unsure whether your machine can be supported, and please check out our Hardware Purchasing Recommendations.

Server Rooms

There are five machine rooms in Stata, managed by the TIG Operations team. We also have facilities at the Massachusetts Green High-Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC) in Holyoke. If you have a machine hosted here or at MGHPCC, please contact for access

Remote power control

We strongly recommend that any mission-critical computing take place on servers located in server rooms, not workstations in offices. Modern servers come with remote management capabilities that allow them to be reset or power-cycled remotely over a secure network. Contact TIG for assistance in setting up a private network for your server management controllers — these must not be connected to the public Internet.

We have no objection in principle to connecting critical equipment in your lab or office to a remote-controlled power strip or outlet. However, these devices often have extremely poor security, with poorly documented hard-coded passwords and unpatchable operating systems and web applications. Unless you have a private network in your lab (accessible from a machine other than the one you are controlling), we would recommend against using such devices. If absolutely necessary, please contact TIG to review the documentation and configuration of the device in question. Please also be aware that many servers draw more power than these consumer-grade devices are designed to handle, which can result in a blown fuse or worse in the middle of an intensive computation.

Computer Hardware

If you decide you do need your own physical server, we encourage you to consult with TIG before committing to a purchasing decision. In general, this often means people saying “We want to buy a thus-and-such to do this on” and us saying “OK, that sounds fine” (after some discussion about physical needs; see below), but we may have useful advice (e.g., that somebody else ran into problems with that particular hardware, or that if you buy this comparable machine instead we’ll be in a better position to diagnose it if it breaks). And we’re happy to be a sounding board for your capacity-planning thoughts.

Computer Purchasing

For server room machine purchases ALWAYS CHECK WITH TIG FIRST. In the last year we have closed one Stata Computer Rooms and have become extremely tight on space/power/cooling in our others. We have been sending most new purchases to the MIT funded data center at Holyoke MGHPCC It takes lots of time effort and planning to determine where machines will be placed so, If you don’t check in with us we cannot guarantee a quick solution to racking and installing your machines in our rack space.

For laptops, please see MIT, IS&T’s Hardware Recommendations.

(IS&T used to have recommended desktop workstation systems, but now “IS&T recommends portable computers due to the flexibility that they provide.")

We generally recommend making purchases through the Buying at MIT which provides discounts for all purchases and payment without POs for departmental orders. Most computer purchases are made through the GovConnection, Apple, and Dell ECAT stores. Please contact HQ’s Fiscal staff with questions about departmental purchases through ECAT.

Hardware Support

While we can often assist in troubleshooting suspected hardware problems, please be advised that TIG is not a hardware shop and can under no conditions perform warranty maintenance or replace processors or power supplies. IS&T’s Service Center offers warranty and out-of-warranty hardware repairs on Apple, Dell, and Lenovo Think-branded computers

You can also reach out to the vendor for both in- and out-of-warranty machines.

Physical Locks

Computer theft is a real and unfortunate threat. Many crimes happen when a laptop is left unattended for just a moment. To help prevent computer theft, please follow these guidelines and come get a lock from TIG if you need it.