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CERN Linux Support policy


To provide a secure version of the Linux operating environment that allows CERN staff and users to perform their (physics-related) work on Linux, according to the goals of the organization.


  • Assemble and certify a CERN Linux distribution together with the CERN Linux user community.
  • Run central Linux installation servers to make this distribution available on the CERN site.
  • Provide security updates and a deployment mechanism for the CERN Linux distribution.
  • Provide general Linux support as detailed below.

Check KB0006508 for the official support restrictions in place.

Support for CERN Linux distributions

Support calls will enter the Problem Tracking system via helpdesk.

Urgent production issues inside IT department may be reported directly to the Linux Support 3rd level team.

Shortcutting the support structure (e.g. direct phone calls to 3rd level team members) is discouraged.

Linux system installations (including documented workarounds) and recurring documented issues will be handled by the (outsourced) 2nd level support, who will forward other completed calls to Linux Support 3rd level team.

Support calls will be assigned a priority that takes into account the impact of the problem for CERN (the reporter's opinion on the priority will be considered, but may be overridden). Priorities affect the order in which calls are handled, low-priority calls may be closed without a satisfactory resolution if resources to answer them properly are not available.

The following will increase the priority:

  • Issues directly affecting operation of accelerators and data-taking.
  • Issues (potentially) affecting a large number of users.
  • Recurring and reproducible issues.

Each of the following will lower the priority:

  • Non-standard PC hardware purchased outside CERN stores.
  • PC hardware purchased from the CERN stores but not validated by Linux Support.
  • Problems with add-on hardware or gadgets (local printers, Webcams, PDAs, USB storage, CD/DVD burners, ...)
  • Problems with add-on software or different versions than deployed in the CERN distribution
  • Per-user configuration issues
  • Languages or fonts beyond official CERN languages (English and French).
  • Requests from outside of CERN (CERN does not support outside institutes, even if they are running our Linux distribution. However, collaboration on Scientific Linux and bug fixes for our distribution are welcome). In case this isn't clearly stated otherwise in the call, a non-CERN mail address will be taken as a request from outside of CERN.

Escalation: In case of problems with the support service, please contact the IT Manager On Duty.

Support for other Linux distributions

IT does not support other Linux distributions. Support calls for other recent Linux distributions opened via Helpdesk or direct mail to will get treated with lowest priority, and specifically no support at all will be provided for releases that are no longer maintained by their respective distributor (this includes any formally de-supported CERN Linux releases).

If resources permit, calls for recent Linux distributions may be answered, but substantial effort to diagnose the problem by the user is assumed to occur before, and such calls may be closed anytime without a satisfactory resolution.

Users are instead invited to ask their questions on linux-community, in the hope that other CERN users may be able to help, or use the mailing lists more appropriate to the distribution they are running.


As a reminder, the CERN computing rules requires a user to

[...] take the necessary precautions to protect his personal computer or work station against unauthorized access.
System administrators of "file servers" (FTP, HTTP, NFS, AFS, etc)
[...] must take proactive and adequate measures to protect the operating system and applications from known security weaknesses.
This responsibility stays with the owner/user/persons defined in LanDB. Running a CERN-supported Linux version with automatic updates enabled will be considered to be sufficient to protect a machine, as long as requests for special actions (e.g. manual kernel upgrades) are followed timely. Such requests will be sent to root on the machine concerned (please configure your machine so that some human will read these mails), as well as published in the mailing list and on the CERN Linux homepage.