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Questions and Answers from the Computing Helpdesk

Collected by the IT/User Support Team

This is a collection of Questions & Answers that have been treated by the Computing Helpdesk managed by the User Support group.

N.B. The number in parentheses refers to its relative numbering in the User Support "Question-Answer" database, at URL:
where NNN is the problem identifier (number).

PC Support -

(Hannes Schwarzbauer IT/User Support)

Question (QA 170) - Install a printer
How do I install a printer on a PC at CERN (on NICE)?

Answer - To do this you must have the CERN printing Package installed. If you do, you should see a small printer in your "system tray" which is the area at the bottom right of your screen, where the clock is:

When it opens you can browse the buildings for printers.

Note: Do not use the "Install a new Printer" option under Control Panel to install a printer at CERN.

Question (QA 178) - FAT partition
How can a FAT partition be converted to an NTFS partition?

Answer - From the command line enter the command convert d: /fs:ntfs . This command is one way only, and you cannot convert an NTFS partition to FAT. If the FAT partition is the system partition then the conversion will take place on the next reboot. Be aware that if you have a dual boot installation and convert to NTFS the boot partition where Windows 95 is sitting, you loose it.

Question (QA 182) - Strange characters in my Word document
I find very strange characters in my Word document which make it difficult to read (e.g. all spaces contain these characters). However, it's perfectly ok when I print, the characters are not printed then.

Answer - While you view or edit a document on the screen, you can display characters such as tab characters, spaces, and carriage returns that don't appear on the printed page. (For example, Word uses arrows to represent tab characters and dots to represent spaces.) That way, you can easily see if you added an extra space between words, typed spaces instead of a tab character, and so on.

Tip: To display all nonprinting characters, select the All check box instead of selecting each individual check box, and deselect it when you want to get rid of them.

Question (QA 184) - Internet Explorer 4 and 5 Installation
I tried to install Internet Explorer 4 from the Start Menu (Start->2->3->1s) but it fails when trying to install the components. All the items are marked with a red cross and I get the error message that the installation failed. Nothing more.

Answer - The last months NICE system people have noticed PCs having corrupted registry settings preventing MSIE4 or MSIE5 to be installed. They checked that this problem does not come from NICE itself. The only workaround to this problem is to do a full re-install of Windows/95 before installing MSIE4. Once this is done the user should not have any further problems.

Question (QA 185) - Internet Explorer on NICE
Which version of Internet Explorer is supported by NICE?

Answer - MSIE4 has been replaced by MSIE5. This is the only version you can install from NICE. But people who use MSIE4 can continue to do so.

Note: the default MSIE3, which is pre-installed on NICE is 4 years out of date, and does not work correctly with the current NICE nor with numerous Web sites around the world. MSIE3 will be removed from NICE at some later point.
N.B. When users complain about MSIE, it is important to know which version they run with: Help menu - About

Question (QA 195) - Shutdown Linux
What is the procedure to shutdown a Linux machine? Can I just power it off?

Answer - From the machine :

You can also do it through telnet: NEVER power off the machine without making a clean halt.

Question (QA 197) - CapsXpert on NICE
CapsXpert is no longer supported/available under NICE. What alternative does the user have?

Answer - The CAPSXpert component-data lookup system (previously on NICE) is no longer supported at CERN. The vendor has ceased to support our current installation and cancelled the respective contract. A new local installation (cost more than CHF 100,000) was beyond both available budget and support manpower. Therefore, and in collaboration with the Digital-CAE user group, the decision is to discontinue CAPSXpert.

The following alternatives are proposed:

In addition, with SPL Division, a call for tender had been launched for a Web-based equivalent of CAPSXpert. The replies have been received and the currently ongoing evaluation (product from the market leader) is quite promising. In the very near future, we expect to offer you access to that Web-based system, at a fraction of the above mentioned cost.

N.B. We have sent the message to the registered users of the electronics CAE cluster registered in the list But it seems that not everybody concerned has received (or read) the info. People can subscribe themselves to the above mentioned mailing list, if they follow the corresponding link from the Web page:

The "CapsXpert" topic has been discussed for quite some while in the Digital-CAE User Group. We expected that this, and sending the details to the cern-electronics mailing list and to the support staff, would cover it pretty much.

We apologize for any inconvenience. If you have questions, please send an e-mail to

November 1999

UNIX Support -

(Nicole Crémel and Roger Woolnough IT/User Support)

Question (QA 172) - System names
On some systems (e.g. RedHat Linux and AIX) there is a difference between the ASIS and AFS system names (e.g. on Linux the ASIS name is i386_redhat60 and the AFS @sys value is i386_linux22 - on RSPLUS/RSBATCH the ASIS name is rs_aix43 but the AFS @sys value is rs_aix42). Why ?

Answer - Note that the situation has been discussed in detail in August, 1999, by the responsible in IT/PDP and IT/DIS and a message had been sent to the physics community at that time. The underlying reason for the difference is that there is no guarantee that AFS and ASIS applications will be affected in the same way by changes to Operating Systems (OS) (for all Unixes) and by differences between Linux distributions.

AFS is concerned only with the File System interface for the OS. This is the same for AIX 4.3 and AIX 4.2, hence the same value for @sys. Taking a simplistic view, the file system interface for Linux depends only on the Linux kernel and thus Transarc (AFS provider for CERN) choose to use the i386_linux22 name. One might imagine that this could also be used by the AFS software for a future RedHat distribution based on a 2.4 kernel if the File System interface remains unchanged.

Many ASIS applications, however, depend on other aspects of the whole Linux environment---e.g. location/version of system libraries---that differ between the different Linux distributions (RedHat, Suse, Debian). As such ASIS cannot use an AFS @sys name which depends only on the kernel, hence the i386_redhat60 value set and used at CERN by the ASIS team.

Those in IT division are reluctant to force AFS at CERN to use the ASIS name, because they believe that many _physics_ applications are much less dependent on the Linux kernel and distribution than ASIS applications (or even AFS releases). They therefore believe it is unwise to create a difference between that @sys value for AFS at CERN and the @sys value for other HEP sites that use different Linux distributions.

Regarding this issue, some practical advice for the users is:

The situation might be improved in the future by defining in the HEPiX environment a "$ASIS_SYS" variable which can be used where necessary.

Question (QA 173) - Special characters on HP
I would like to use special characters in my password but the # is never recognised on HPPLUS.

Answer - Many UNIX systems have different algorithms for special characters and the # is one of them. Sun and SGI machines have no trouble with this character but for HP it must be preceded by a \ to tell the system a 'special character' is following.

Question (QA 174) - Run ANSYS in batch
When I try to run ANSYS as a batch job with the ansbatch55 on and after answering the list of questions, I get some error:

 :          REMEMBER !!!!!!!!
 :        In case that no ANSYS license is available, you can
 :        set the "ANSWAIT" env variable to "TRUE" and 
 :        your ANSYS session will queue for a free license unit 
 :        More info on ANSYS at URL: http://consult/parc/ansys
 :This system does not have network batch system
 :Do you want your job to be executed just in the background? [y]/n

Answer - We have a dedicated service called PARC setup to run engineering applications. You can submit jobs to it from the RSPLUS cluster. Therefore to successfully run your application you need to get accounts on PARC and RSPLUS and log into RSPLUS and issue the ansbatch55 command again. You should contact your computer group administrator (see with "xwho") and ask him to create these accounts for you.

Question (QA 177) - Anonymous access to files on AFS via ftp
Is it possible to give anonymous access to files on AFS via ftp ?

Answer - For security reasons, no anonymous ftp service is offered on any public Service. We discourage creating such access on your private workstation or PC for the same reasons, and if you have to do it, we strongly recommend not to allow file imports - in the ``ftp'' terminology, that users may ``put'' files. This is because hackers often use writable FTP servers as a repository for illegal software. Systems which insist on permitting writable anonymous ftp access should be configured such that the writable directory is not readable by ``public''.

You may however export any of your files through WWW following the procedure described below:

Question (QA 179) - Linux and ASISwsm
I am working on Linux and get many error messages from ASISwsm which seem to indicate an "AFS cache corruption" problem. What should I do ?

Answer - On supported systems using 'fs flush' to clean-up AFS cache is discouraged because then no debug is possible. Problems with corrupted cache should be reported to who could contact Transarc. However 'fs flush' could be use in emergency case, to continue working.

Note that on Linux redhat 5.1, AFS is completely unsupported and there are LOTS of cache corruption problems. So it is possible to use 'fs flush' (to flush individual files) or 'fs flushv' (to flush a volume), or even to clear all the cache (type "rm /usr/vice/cache/*Items") and then reboot. This should solve your problem with ASISwsm.

For more information regarding AFS, you could also check what is the recommended AFS level at CERN for your operating system at URL:

and see defects corrected in patches release at URL:

Mail Support -

(Michel Franceschi and Miguel Marquina IT/User Support)

Question (QA 148) - Pine version 4.10
Has CERN any project to move to version 4.10 of Pine, where it is possible to use the mouse (WRT Pine)?

Answer - Indeed we have been testing pine 4.10 and its new functionality possibilities here at CERN for several months. It is not in production, but if you really want to, you can start it directly out of the test area. If you do so, then you should bear in mind that it may be modified with no notice, and the version being tested may not be identical to that eventually released... Anyway with those proviso, try if you like:


ps:At present (November 1999) there are 4.02 and 4.10 available.

Question (QA 149) - Mis-spelling in the "From:" field
There seems to be a mis-spelling in the "From:" field for users who receive e-mail sent by myself. Apparently users are receiving e-mails with:

  From: Vassili Marusov <>
instead of:
  From: Vassili Maroussov <>
Obviously this generates "Error: Undelivered mail" messages when they try to reply to my e-mails.

Answer - If you are using Netscape (Messenger) as your mail agent, then it is most probably due to a bad configuration of your "Preferences..." (Menu Edit / Preferences... / Mail & Groups / Identity).

Otherwise it could be a "registration" problem: check if the data are correct in the CERN "Phone book". If there is an error, then the Web page will explain you what to do.

Web Publishing -

(Maria Dimou IT/User Support)

Question (QA 147) - Accentuated characters with Netscape 4.05
Netscape is crashing whenever I hit one of the accentuated characters in a text-entry field. Netscape simply closes, and I lose all information entered since the last save.

Answer - There is a bug in Netscape 4.05, and consequently the solutions are:

  1. Use 'French' keyboard layout instead of 'US International'.
  2. Use WinNT instead of Win95.
  3. Use a higher version of Netscape.

Question (QA 150) - New version for httpd
We have an old version of the httpd deamon from CERN and have looked many a place for the updated version but it is not to be found. Are there any later versions ?

Answer - The development and support of the CERN httpd is no longer made at CERN, but at the W3 Consortium. You can find information on the daemon at URL:

Please, send questions or comments directly to

Question (QA 151) - Invalid link
If I see a link out of date on a Web page who do I inform?

Answer - The person who signs the page (if it is signed). Else the owner of the site (who should sign the top page).

Question (QA 153) - Access counter
I want to know the number of access for a Web page which is in, what is recommended?

Answer - Usage of counters on Web page is not recommended at CERN, as you can see in the "CERN Guidelines for Publishing on the Web" at URL:

However, for you can use the "statistics service" available at URL:

Any questions related to this service should be addressed to

Question (QA 155) - Icons with national flags
How can I find small icons with national flags (at least of the CERN member states)?

Answer - There is an archive on the Web, with many countries on it:

and for the CERN member states:

i.e.: for Austria.

Question (QA 164) - Protect Web pages
Can you help me to password protect a directory (and its contents)?

Answer - This depends on the Web Server software you run and can be done by its maintainer.

E.g. For different protection possibilities in Apache look into:

DeskTop Publishing -

(Andreas Wagner IT/User Support)

Question (QA 157) - PDF
Is there a recommended software at CERN or a site licence for a software product to generate .pdf documents from PostScript files?

Answer - No there is no recommended software. On the NICE PCs, there is the standard software from Adobe, "distiller", which convert PostScript to PDF.

Information about such conversions can be found at URL:

For matters related to this article please contact the author.

Last Updated on Thu Dec 16 13:33:11 GMT+03:30 1999.
Copyright © CERN 1999 -- European Laboratory for Particle Physics