The SRCF moves to West Cambridge

Richard Allitt, 19 April, 2022
On Saturday 9th April 2022, the SRCF completed the bulk of its physical server relocation. We moved out of 17 Mill Lane, home to Cambridge SU’s former offices and in central Cambridge, and into the Roger Needham Building of University Information Services, over on the West Cambridge site.

What's in our server rack?

Richard Allitt, 19 April, 2022
The SRCF owns and maintains a selection of hardware, mostly acquired through donations from third parties (such as other university departments, or local companies) replacing their own kit.

IRC and monitoring

Dexter Chua, 5 October, 2020
The SRCF has recently been plagued by a variety of hardware issues. To keep an eye on our services, we employ a variety of monitoring software such as Icinga and Munin. Monitoring is only useful if we get notified when we encounter problems. In the past, we relied on email and SMS notifications. For better or for worse, some of the sysadmins check IRC more frequently than their email. Recently, we started making Icinga and Munin send their notifications to a dedicated IRC channel:

Migration from 'society' to 'group' accounts

Matias Silva, 28 July, 2020
For many years, the SRCF has offered society accounts to everyone from university societies to undergraduate projects, collectives of friends and in at least one instance, a college. For historical reasons, we used to call these “society accounts” when we meant “group accounts”. Finally, we are fixing that.

Securing Mattermost via lua-nginx

Dexter Chua, 23 July, 2020
As announced in the previous blog post, the SRCF just launched a new mattermost instance. Mattermost runs on an open-core model, with an open-sourced free tier and paid “enterprise” feature. Being a student-run society, we went with the free tier, officially known as “Team Edition”. The Team Edition lacks some access control features that would be useful for us. After numerous failed attempts to do access control the “right” way, we decided to intercept Mattermost’s API calls at nginx via lua-nginx-module to run our own authentication logic before passing them on to Mattermost. At the end, we get more refined permission controls that we would have had with Enterprise edition.

Mattermost (Slack alternative) launched, Zulip to come soon!

Dexter Chua, Matias Silva, 23 July, 2020
The SRCF is excited to announce its most recent addition to its arsenal of services. We’ve officially launched our Mattermost service, an open-core team communication tool, designed to be an alternative to Slack and MS Teams. Any member of the University can sign up for free and create a team for their group or society.

Cross-Site Request Forgery

Dexter Chua, 29 June, 2020
In this blog post, I will discuss how the SRCF recently hardened the control panel against cross-site request forgery (CSRF) attacks. These attacks allow malicious sites to perform actions in the control panel on your behalf.

But how *does* Timeout really work?

Matias Silva, 4 June, 2020
Do you want to know how Timeout works? Want to contribute? Look no further than this blog post!

Timeout conferencing goes live!

Matias Silva, 2 June, 2020
tl;dr – The SRCF is offering free and simple video conferencing for all members of the university. To get started, visit and read our documentation. You can host meetings for as long as you want, when you want and have anyone join all via a convenient link. No annoying downloads needed – it runs in your browser and is very mobile friendly.

Hello World!

Dexter Chua, 30 May, 2020
There have been many exciting SRCF projects recently, the most prominent of which is Timeout, a video conferencing platform that Matias will tell you all about later. In the meantime, we decided to start a blog to share our sysadmin experiences. The goal is to give our users some insight into what we do, and hopefully attract some of them to join us in the future. Moreover, we hope that documenting our experiences can be helpful for other people intending to deploy similar systems.