COMPUTER NEWS (March/April 1993)

General   Enquiries         8592495
Computer Operation          8592496
(Hardware and operational problems)
'Help Desk'                 8592480
(Software and general problems)
Fax                         5597904
Hardware Maintenance        8592774
Dial-up to Data Switch
  24-hr service line :    8592595
  Night service line :    8597997

Operation Schedule for April & May 1993

Computer Centre Opening Hours

Normal Schedule                     
From September 14, 1992 to June 13, 1993  
Monday (8:00 a.m.) to Saturday (9:00 p.m.)

Sunday from 12:00 noon to 7:00 p.m.
Closed on Holidays.  

VAX 6420 (HKUCC)           
DECsystem 5500s (HKUXA/HKUXB)                                  
SUN SPARCserver 670 (HKUSUB)                                           
Service hours
24 hours Daily.
Running unattended on all
Sundays and Holidays
Maintenance Schedule                            
VAX 6420 (HKUCC)        
April 7, 1993 (Wednesday)                        

Terminal Room Opening Hours

Remote Terminal Rooms Rm 218, Knowles Building Rm LG-108, KK Leung Bldg. Ultrix & SunOS Workstation Rooms Rm 113, Run Run Shaw Bldg. Rm 210, Run Run Shaw Bldg. Microcomputer Laboratories Rm 101, 103, 104, Run Run Shaw Building Normal Schedule

Monday to Friday: 8:30 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. Saturday: 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Closed on Sundays & Holidays

Holiday Schedule for March 1993

(VAX 6420, IBM 9375, DECsystem 5500s and SUN SPARCserver 670 will be running unattended on all holidays)

Ching Ming Festival
April 5, 1993 (Mon)
  Computer Centre closed
  All terminal rooms closed.
April 6, 1993 (Tue)
  Computer Centre open at 8:00 a.m.
  All computer systems resume service at 8:30 a.m.
April 9 (Fri) to April 12, 1993 (Mon)
  Computer Centre open at 12:00 a.m.
  All computer systems resume service at 12:30 am
  No service from 6:30 p.m.
  Computer Centre closed at 7:00 p.m.
  All terminal rooms closed
April 13, 1993 (Tue)
  Computer Centre open at 8:00 a.m.
  All computer systems resume service at 8:30 am
'Help Desk' Consultation Hours

Rm 109, Run Run Shaw Building (8592480)

Monday - Friday: 9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
                 2:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Saturday:        9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Closed on Sundays & Holidays

General News

Availability of DECmpp 1200 Supercomputer

Through the collaboration among the seven tertiary institutions, namely The University of Hong Kong, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the Hong Kong Polytechnic, the City Polytechnic, the Baptist College and the Lingnam College, a joined submission was made to acquire a DECmpp 1200 system. This system has been installed at The Chinese University of Hong Kong and is now available for service.

The DECmpp 1200 is a massively parallel processing system which has 8192 processor elements (expandable to 16,384 processor elements) with 64Kbyte RAM per processor element giving a total of 512MByte RAM. It is a SIMD (Single Instruction Multiple Data) computer, i.e. all processors in the system execute the same instruction on different data in parallel. It is optimised for data-parallel computational intensive work on a large data set. Ultrix (a DEC version of UNIX) is the operating system for the DECmpp system. Access to this system is via a workstation.

Since the DECmpp 1200 system is categorized as supercomputer by United State Department of Commerce, there are restrictions on access to the system as well as on the topics of research to be performed on the system. Access restrictions include the physical security of the workstation as well as who can be a user of the system. Example of restriction on research topics include activities related to design, construction, operation or maintenance of a principle nuclear energy, nuclear propulsion, a heavy water production facility, missiles or rockets etc.

The DECmpp 1200 system is funded by the RGC (Research Grant Committee) of UPGC (University and Polytechnic Grant Committee) and is available to members of the said seven tertiary institutions.

Application for the use of this DECmpp 1200 system will be approved if it satisfies the requirements prescribed by the United States Department of Commerce and the Hong Kong Trade Department. Currently, persons whose nationality are of Afghanistan, Albania, Bulgaria, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Cambodia, Estonia, Iran, Iraq, Latvia, Laos, Libya, Lithuania, Mongolia, North Korea, The People's Republic of China, Poland, Rumania, Syria, Vietnam, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Byelarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan will be denied access to the system. Interested users can contact the undersigned for the application form or for further details.

C M Mak                                                       
Tel.: 8592491                                                 

Setting up of the Sun Workstation Room

With the relocation of our maintenance team to Eliot Hall, room RR-113, previously accommodating the team, is now being renovated as the Sun SPARCstation room.

The six Sun SPARCstation IPX workstations which were housed under the same roof with the twelve DECstation 5000/125 workstations in RR-210 were moved to their new home in RR-113 recently.

Computer Centre is now operating two workstation rooms; room RR-210 and RR-113. In room RR-210, there will be 12 DECstation 5000/125 workstations while in room RR-113, there will be 6 Sun SPARCstation IPX workstations. These two rooms are for open access. But they can also be booked for class teaching.

C M Mak                                                       
Tel.:  8592491                                                 

Usage Accounting ready for all UNIX-based Systems

For users of HKUCC, usage accounting is no stranger to them. But for many users of Unix-based systems such as HKUXA, HKUXB and HKUSUB, this may be new to them. It has always been the intention of Computer Centre to implement usage accounting on all host computer systems.

Computer Centre has now completed the development of the usage accounting system for the Unix-based systems. As from May 1, 1993, usage accounting for all Unix-based system will be started. For the HKUXA and HKUXB servers and their workstations, irrespectively of where the user logins, usage will be deducted from the same budget. Likewise, for HKUSUB server and their workstations, usage will be deducted from the same budget irrespective of whether the user logins the server or the workstations. The following is an explanation of the usage accounting which you may find helpful.

When a computer account is created for a user, a certain amount of computer budget is allocated according to your user type.

In general, a notional computer budget of HK $2000 will be allocated to undergraduate users while staff and postgraduate users will be given a computer budget of HK $5000.

Your usage of our host computer chargeable resources will be deducted from the computer budget. The chargeable resources on our host computers are CPU time, terminal time and disk usage.

On our Unix servers and workstations, the existing rate of charging is HK $0.02 per CPU second, HK $3.00 per terminal hours and HK $0.2 per 100 Kbytes of allocated disk quota per month.

Your usage accounting of the chargeable resources is calculated and is then deducted from your computer budget at the end of each login session.

You can check your remaining budget on a UNIX system by entering the budget command. Also, you can include the budget command in your ".login" file ˙if ˙you want to find out your remaining budget every time you login the system.

When the computer budget is reduced to zero, you will get a message to this effect at login time and will be barred from login.

You can apply for additional budget if it is necessary. The application form can be obtained from Computer Centre at room RR223 and must be countersigned by your supervisor if you are a student.

Each year, the computer budget will be renewed and reset to its standard value on September 1.

C M Mak                                                       
Tel.: 8592491                                                 


More User License for the HKUXA Ultrix Server

The Ultrix servers consist of the HKUXA and HKUXB systems. Ultrix (a DEC version of UNIX) which is the operating system for the HKUXA and HKUXB systems is licensed on the basis of number of users that can concurrently login to the system. When the two systems were installed, each system had an initial license for 32 concurrent users, i.e. at any one time, no more than 32 users can login at each of the two systems.

Since the installation of the two servers, many user accounts have been created and there have been growing demand among users to access these systems.

To cope with the increasing load, the Ultrix licence for the HKUXA has been upgraded by doubling its licence limit from 32 to 64 concurrent users. HKUXA is chosen for the upgrade because it has more software than HKUXB. Software that are not available on HKUXB include ANSYS and SAS. By increasing the licence limit of HKUXA, users will have a better opportunity to access SAS and ANSYS on HKUXA.

For other services such as electronic mail, electronic bulletin boards, file transfer, library catalogue enquiry, language compilers etc., they are still available on both the HKUXA and HKUXB systems.

C M Mak                                                       
Tel.: 8592491                                                 

Using SQL*Loader to load data into ORACLE tables

This article shows you how to use SQL*Loader, a tool for loading data from external files into ORACLE database tables. Among the academic host systems, ORACLE is available only on the Sun SPARCserver 670 MP, the HKUSUB system. Suppose that you already have had databases which are not in ORACLE format and you would like to translate them into ORACLE tables, SQL*Loader, an ORACLE utility, will be a great help to you. It can process input files of various formats and allow you control over how records are loaded into ORACLE tables.

You need to provide two types of input to SQL*Loader to load data from external files into ORACLE database tables:

    -   the data itself                                       
    -   control information describing how to perform the load 
These information can be provided in separate files, or together in one control file. Data to be loaded into the ORACLE database must exist in files on disk or tape. If your data files are on PC, use FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program to upload those files onto HKUSUB. The control file should contain the following information:

    -   names of data files                                   
    -   format of data files                                  
    -   fields in the data files                              
    -   how to load the data into tables                      
The tables to receive the data must already exist in the ORACLE database. The tables may either be empty or contain data. You can use the SQL*PLUS command, CREATE TABLE, to create the required tables. SQL*Loader may create up to three files during the loading process. They are:

a. Log file

b. Bad file

c. Discard file

      DISCARDFILE filename                                 
      DISCARDDN filename                                   
      DISCARDS n                                           
      DISCARDMAX n                                         
The following examples are based on an ORACLE table called "dept" owned by userid/password, the table definition for "dept" is:

    create table dept                                         
    (deptno       number(2),                                  
    dname         char(14),                                   
    loc           char(13))                                   
Ex 1. Loading fixed-length, fixed-format records by using separate control file and data file.

The control file, "example1.ctl", contains the following:

   load data                                            
   infile example1.dat                                  
   into table dept                                      
   (deptno       position(1:2) integer external,        
   dname         position(3:16) char,                   
   loc           position(17:29) char)               
An explanation of the "example1.ctl" is as follows:

The "example1.dat" contains the following:
   11Prosthetic            PPDH                         
   12Medicine              QMH                          
   13Statistics            R.R. Shaw Bldg.              
where the values of the "deptno" field occupies columns 1-2, the "dname" field columns 3-16 and the "loc" field columns 17-29.

Blank fields are set to null automatically and SQL*Loader can be invoked as follows:

  sqlload userid/password example1.ctl example1.log

The SQL*Loader loads the "dept" table and creates two files, the log file and bad file called "example1.log" and "example1.bad" respectively.

Ex 2. Loading variable-length records, in which the fields are delimited by commas and may be enclosed by quotation marks. The data is found at the end of the control file.

The control file, "example2.ctl", contains the following:

    load data                                                 
    infile *                                                  
    into table dept                                           
    fields terminated by ',' optionally enclosed by ' '       
    (deptno, dname, loc)                                      
    13,Statistics,"R.R. Shaw Bldg."                           
An explanation of the "example2.ctl" is as follows:

SQL*Loader can be invoked as follows:

   sqlload userid/password example2.ctl

Reference: ORACLE RDBMS : Utilities User's Guide, Version 6.0

S L Lee                                                 
Tel.: 8592485                                                 

VAX News

GCG updated on the HKUCC System

The GCG software (Genetics Computer Group Sequence Analysis Software) installed on the VAX 6420 (HKUCC) system has been upgraded to version 7.2. The following databases are now available:

    GenBank               Release 75.0 (2/93)     
    EMBL (Modified)       Release 33.0 (12/92) 
    PIR-Protein           Release 35.0 (12/92) 
    PIR-Nucleic           Release 36.0 (3/90) 
    SwissProt             Release 24.0 (1/93)     
    Vecbase               Release 3.0  (8/87)      
    PROSITE               Release 10.0 (1/93)   
    Restriction Enzymes   (2/93)                  
A Data Reference Set, Volume 3: "Data Files (Database Update 93-2)" which describes more about the data files of the databases, is now available from Computer Centre's General Office (Room RR223) for short term loan.

Since the programs and the databases of GCG are getting much bigger, GCG users are advised to apply for a larger virtual memory limit for running some of the programs. The CF-101 application forms, which are obtainable from the General Office, should be filled in with the additional resources specified clearly and returned to the Office.

For further enquiries, please contact the undersigned.

Charles Y W Cheung                                       
Tel.: 8592497                                                 

PC News

Pilot-Run of the Campus-Wide Information Service

Since its first inception in 1988, the Campus Network has grown into an infrastructure covering most of the departments. provision of more network services has been planned. The Campus- Wide Information Service (CWIS) is conceived as one of these. It is hoped that this service will provide a platform for distributing electronically-based information to all departmental users who have access to the Campus Network. Providers of information will be those organisations in the University who are interested in putting out some of their information for common access. Such information is expected to be of Campus-wide interest.

A pilot-run release of the Campus-Wide Information Service is due to appear on 1 May, 1993. This release will start off as a 'limited' service, so that some of its impacts on the Campus Network (especially the network bandwidth utilisation) can be carefully assessed. Information will initially come from four sources : Computer Centre , Centre of Media Resources, Medical Library and the Electronic Services Unit.

From the user's point of view, this service will just be another item on the HKUMENU of his/her departmental PC-server. The service is indeed available without requiring users to first log on any of the host computers. Selecting the item will bring up a menu-page containing the various categories of information carried by the service. Typically, the information will be grouped under the respective information providers.

The information may be either texts or scanned images. In both cases, interfaces with adequate functionality will be set up to facilitate reading/viewing the information. For text information, such functionality typically includes displaying, keyword- searching and context-sensitive cross-referencing. In the case of scanned information, image-displaying, scrolling, zooming and scaling are supported. However, the speed of displaying images may be slow for certain systems, like PC/ATs, and the image quality will vary and depends on the display cards being used. Adequate on-line help will also be included to make using the interface easier.

We encourage you to try out this pilot service and welcome your feedbacks for our review of the service.

T Y Shen                                                      
Tel.:  8592482                                                 

Questions and Answers

With the intention of providing useful information to our readers in using various services available, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) collected from various sources (including from our Help Desk and CCBOX services) are presented here with answers in this new column. Whenever it is appropriate, we will continue to put up this column in the coming issues of the Newsletter.

Electronic Mail

Q. What is my e-mail address?

A. Your e-mail address is where account is your account name and node is the central machine's node name on which your account is created.

For example, if you have an account aywlee on the HKUCC system, a friend can send mail to your account by using the e-mail address aywlee if her account is also created on the same machine. Otherwise, she probably has to use your full address which is                                  
Similarly, if your account is on the HKUXA/HKUXB system, your full address is     OR 
Q. I cannot send messages to a full address from the HKUCC system. Why?

A. For example, at the To: prompt, you had entered JOHNLEE@HKUCC.HKU.HK and you then received the error message

    . . . invalid user specification '@HKUCC.HKU.HK'     
The unfriendly feature of the VAX/VMS MAIL utility is that you need to put a wrapper around a full address, i.e. IN%"" . If the whole thing is quoted, you may need to specify as follows:

Q. Where have my e-mail messages gone?

A. All new mail messages are stored in a folder in a system spool area in the UNIX systems. However, once you have seen the messages, the mail program may move all such messages (found at the time) to another folder under your account, usually the mbox folder. You can use the following command to instruct the program to locate mail messages from the mbox folder:

    mail -f                                              
You should be able to get back your mail messages which seem to have disappeared.

Similarly, for the VAX system, the new mail ˙messages will be stored in the NEWMAIL folder whereas the default folder for storing messages read is the MAIL folder.

Q. How can one view a mail message page by page (on UNIX)?

A. If you are using the default mail program (not ELM), you can use the command

    set crt=n                                            
to specify that each page consists of n lines.

Q. How can I send a text file to my friend at the system prompt?

A. Assuming the text file is called myfile.txt and the e-mail address of your friend is you can enter

    mail  <  myfile.txt                  
at the UNIX (Ultrix) system prompt (e.g. hkuxa> or hkuxb>) to send out the file.

Similarly, you can enter

    MAIL  MYFILE.TXT  "IN%""JOHN@HKUCC.HKU.HK"""           
at the VAX system prompt (e.g. $) to mail your file to the specific address. Be careful that you have the right number of ".

Q. How can I obtain more information on using the mail program?

A. You can use the command man mail on UNIX systems and HELP MAIL on the VAX/VMS systems for getting on-line information about the mail utility.

Also, you can refer to the Network Services User's Guide and the VAX/VMS Electronic Mail User's Guide for details. Both these two and other useful handbooks can be purchased from our General Office at Room 223, Run Run Shaw Building.

K T Wan                                                 
Tel.: 85979731                                                

Training News

Computer Training Courses in April & May

We have scheduled several seminars and/or workshops in April and May. The ˙UNIX seminar will cover the ˙basic ˙operating system commands and network services available on the UNIX systems. The ORACLE seminar will introduce the ORACLE RDBMS software installed on the HKUSUB system to users interested in using a Relational Database System to implement their on-line information system. The Optical Mark Reader for Course Evaluation seminar is provided for staff members who are going to collect responses of Multiple Choice questions for analysis. In line with the OMR seminar, a seminar with workshop on each the statistical packages, SPSS and SAS will be given.

Furthermore, two Campus Network User Training Workshops will also be held (1 in April and 1 in May) for staff members to find out how to use the various network services. However, people on the waiting list of the workshop held last month have taken up all the available seats of the first workshop to be held in April. Interested users should register for the second workshop quickly. Otherwise, they will be placed in the waiting list.

Course 15/92 or Course 16/92

Campus Network User Training Workshop

This is a 3-hour seminar in 2 sessions (1.5 hours each) which covers all the services provided on the University campus network, especially those related to the departmental LAN's (e.g. HKUMENU, network printing, file sharing etc.) and the host computer systems (e.g. E-mail, DRA Library System, SENDFAX, UIS,and the access to Internet etc.). There will be hands-on practice for some of the facilities discussed in the form of a workshop.

Course 17/92 - The UNIX Seminar

This 2-hour seminar is intended to cover the basic UNIX operating system commands and the various network services available.

Course 18/92 - The ORACLE RDBMS Seminar

The purpose of this 2-hour seminar is to introduce the ORACLE RDBMS installed in the HKUSUB system. An overview of the software will be given and features of its various components will also be discussed.

Course 19/92 - The Optical Mark Reader for Course Evaluation

This 1-hour seminar will outline the function of the OMR as a reliable, fast and accurate equipment for collecting responses to Multiple Choice questions. Customisations on the questions of the form used will be covered.

Course 20/92 - SAS Seminar and Workshop

This 2-hour seminar and 2-hour workshop are for introducing the statistical package to the general users for carrying out analysis on data stored in files.

Course 21/92 - SPSS Seminar and Workshop

This 2-hour seminar and 2-hour workshop are similar to that of the Course 20/92 except that the SPSS software is used.


The Registration Form is available in our General Office, Rm. 223, Run Run Shaw Building. Please complete and return the attached Registration Form to Computer Centre . Successful applicants will be notified by telephone, and will be asked to confirm the registration at least one working week before the seminar begins.

For general enquiries, please contact Ms Heti Cheng at 8592491 .

For technical information, please contact

    Mr. T.Y. Shen               for course 15/92 & 16/92
    (tel.: 8592482, e-mil: 
    Mr. K.T. Wan                for course 17/92
    (tel.: 8597971, e-mil: 

    Mr. S.L. Lee or K.T. Wan    for course 18/92
    (tel.: 8592485, e-mil: 
    (tel.: 8597971, e-mil: 

    Ms. Katherine Lee           for course 19/92
    (tel.: 8592485, e-mil: 

    Mr. S.L. Lee or K.T. Wan    for course 20/92 & 21/92
    (tel.: 8592485, e-mil: 
    (tel.: 8597971, e-mil: 

Course  Title:           Date/Time          Venue:              

16/92   Campus Network   May 24, 1993       Registration required. 
        User Training    3:30 pm - 5:00 pm  Max. 20 persons.              
        Workshop         May 27, 1993       Staff Only.   
                         3:30 pm - 5:00 pm  Conducted in English.        
                         RR201, Run Run Shaw Bldg.                  
17/92   The UNIX Seminar April 28, 1993     Registration required.
                         2:30 pm - 4:30 pm  Max. 50 persons.               
                         RR207,             Conducted in English.
                         Run Run Shaw Bldg.                

18/92   The ORACLE RDBMS May 3, 1993        Registration required.
        Seminar          10 am - 12 noon    Max. 20 persons.
                         RR101,             Staff Only.
                         Run Run Shaw Bldg. Conducted in English. 
19/92   The OMR for      April 26, 1993     Registration required.
        Course           11 am - 12 noon    Max. 50 persons.   
        Evaluation       RR207,             Conducted in English.
                         Run Run Shaw Bldg.                 
20/92   The SAS Seminar  May 4, 1993        Registration required.
        and Workshop     2:30 pm - 4:30 pm  Max. 20 persons.  
                         May 6, 1993        Staff Only.    
                         2:30 pm - 4:30 pm  Conducted in English.          
                         RR101, Run Run Shaw Bldg.   
21/92   The SPSS Seminar May 11, 1993       Registration required.
        and Workshop     2:30 pm - 4:30 pm  Max. 20 persons.   
                         May 13, 1993       Staff Only.
                         2:30 pm - 4:30 pm  Conducted in English.          
                         RR101, Run Run Shaw Bldg.   

User Services Group, Computer Centre , the University of Hong Kong