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UCO Service Description

  Miguel Marquina and Roger Woolnough IT/User Support


You probably already know the User Consultancy Office (UCO) which runs the Help Desk installed in building 513. It is now one of the key elements of the new independent User Support group which has been set up in the Information Technology (IT) division (see the articles "More Changes in IT Division" and "The User Support Group").

The UCO is a front-end service to the Computing facilities provided by IT. Although the UCO is mainly used by the Research sector, users from other Divisions address us for a variety of subjects including:

If we cannot answer all problems directly, we take the responsibility to contact the appropriate expert ourselves, and follow the problem until the user gets an answer. About 10% of the questions are on general aspects of CERN organization and non-computer subjects where, as a "Help Desk", we are pleased to give advice when we can, or pass on the question to the competent service.

Our Help Desk deals on average with about 1500 requests per month coming via e-mail, telephone calls and personal visits. It is affiliated to the International Help Desk Institute, which allows us to keep up to date with the latest available techniques used in such services. It is also a platform for exchanging ideas with similar services world-wide.

Documentation (DIRECT Service)

The DIRECT (Documentation and Information REtrieval on Computing Technology) Service is an important activity coordinated by the UCO. Most manuals and documents produced by the IT Division are distributed at the UCO Help Desk, notably the CERN Program Library material, as well as different user guides covering various services: NICE PC environment, E-mail, UNIX system guides for different platforms, AFS, remote terminal access, etc.

In addition, the UCO hosts the CERN "COmputing Book Shop" (COBS Service) where more than 250 books and CD-Roms are on offer at very competitive prices (see the "UCO Book Catalogue" at the end of this CNL or look at URL: Users may browse the shop during UCO hours and can buy books/CD-Roms with a TID, EDH or with cash (1). Should you have suggestions for new titles you can contact the service via where we will be pleased to receive input.

The service is also responsible for the online availability of the documents above, and their access from all central services. Documents may be viewed at URL

where everything from self-service material, IT-Reports, Reference cards and CNLs may be scanned. The document contributors bear ultimate responsibility for the accuracy of the information, but we may be contacted and serve as mediators in order to request documentation updates to the relevant person.

Information Retrieval from WWW

For immediate help we encourage users to use the "Search & View" (or 'xfind') facility developed by people in the User Support group, available at URL:

This Web page uses a search engine to scan all kind of IT documents, i.e.: CNLs, the UCO "Question & Answer" database (with more than 2000 Q&A's), as well as write-ups and reference cards. The Q&A database is continually updated and will soon incorporate other Q&As offerings from other IT groups to help users try to solve problems themselves (especially outside UCO working hours).

User registration and account modifications

Accounting is another important activity coordinated by the UCO. To get a computer account on a CERN central service (e.g. CERNSP, HPPLUS, or the MAILSERVer) new users must contact a "computer group administrator" (generally there are several of them for a given CERN group/division) who will fill in a registration form available from the UCO (2). It is also the duty of the group administrator to create the accounts; the completed registration form (which must be signed by the administrator) is sent back to the UCO for verification and release of the accounts. Note that the group administrator can easily be found via the "xwho service", another facility developed by people in the User Support group (enter the UNIX command ""xwho" or go to the Web page, and give the name of someone already registered on a CERN central computer who will work closely with the new user).

The section responsible for user registration in the User Support group ( can act as administrator back-up in case of absence, as well as giving advice for registration requirements, modifications and password changes. The Home page for this service provides all additional information. You can access it at URL:

The IT User Area

IT Division offers in building 513, just in front of the Help Desk, a large user area which has been set up with Workstations, PCs, Macs, and X-terminals. Users will find a variety of printers of different quality, as well as the output bins where print jobs and graphic plots produced at the central printers are placed for collection or distribution. Users requiring help with these facilities can ask at the UCO or the Computer Operation's desk.

The current hardware offering is:


Plotters and printers:

Service availability

Excluding CERN holiday periods the User Consultancy Office is open 7 hours a day 5 days a week, with the following schedule:

You can contact us by phone at +41 22 767 4952 (or just 74952 when calling from CERN) or via electronic mail as The Home page with all relevant information concerning the "User Consultancy Office" is available is at URL:

It should also be noted that "central computer operation" staff are on duty 24 hours/day (tel. 75011, even outside UCO opening hours), and may assist with various subjects including printers in the User Area. Access to the terminals and workstations installed there is freely available, as well as access to the distribution bins of printouts, and plots.


(1) Payment with cash can only be done through the special SBS bank account C0-148,556.0. All details are given at URL:

(2) Registration forms, as well as modifications and copies of the CERN computing rules, are available on self service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, outside the UCO Help Desk. The registration form must be sent only the first time a new user is registered on a CERN central machine: users who already have an account at CERN, but just need a new account on another machine, do not need to fill in and send this form a second time.

next up previous
Next: The IT Training Service Up: cnl228.html Previous: The User Support Group