Rules and Etiquette

Last Updated: 3 Sept 2002 by 537

The official Zoo policy is as follows:

  • Do not log into more than one workstation at once.
  • You may lock a console for up to one hour if the Zoo is busy, or up to two hours if it is not busy.
  • Food and drink are prohibited in the Zoo.
  • Do not power-cycle the machines; i.e., do not touch the power button.
  • If you have any problems or questions, ask a member of DSAC – either in person (we’re often hanging around) or via e-mail, at

The following are some more general usage guidelines for the Zoo, but, in general, if you follow the Golden Rule, you should be fine. Just remember that you are not alone in the Zoo, and that your actions will usually affect other Zoo users.

Using the Workstations

Zoo workstations are sometimes a scarce resource, especially when finals and majors’ projects come around. In order to maximize the chance that there will always be free nodes available to those who need them, please observe the following rules: As we mentioned above, Do not log on to more than one machine at a time. DSAC reserve the right to log you out if you are logged on to more than one machine at a time.

If you’re logged in on a Zoo node and decide to leave briefly (for example, to use the restroom, hit the vending machines, or to go to dinner), you may “lock” your node. You can use one the built-in locking systems in KDE or Gnome, or you can run “xscreensaver &” (if it is not already running) and then “xscreensaver-command -lock”. Locking a computer prevents other people from using the node, and it saves you the trouble of having to log out and then log back in. Remember that Zoo nodes are not your private property. If you’re going to leave, log out. For the sake of etiquette, we ask that you limit your lock time for 2 hours if the Zoo isn’t busy, and half an hour if it is. Remember that DSAC reserves the right to break your lock and log you out at any time. The Zoo machines themselves are configured to log out users whose terminals have been locked for more than 3 hours. Why?

If the Zoo is full and the only free nodes are locked, people who really need to do work cannot. Locking nodes fragments the Zoo, so it is harder for students who wish to sit near each other to find adjacent nodes. If you need to run a long job on a Zoo node and would like to lock the node to allow the computation to continue while you are gone, have a faculty member notify DSAC and, explaining the reason for the lock and noting the machine you’re working on.

Eating and Drinking

Please do not feed the animals. In order to protect the machines, food and drink are prohibited in the Zoo. You can, however, bring snacks and eat them in the luxurious atrium area on the second floor, right downstairs from the Zoo. There is even a fridge available down there, but beware the grad students who are known to nosh many an errant snack!

It is against the rules to smoke in Watson!


Please do not be disruptive in the Zoo. It is very easy to get on someone else’s nerves in the Zoo, even if you don’t realize you’re doing it. Remember at all times that there are other people in the Zoo, and some (if not all) of them are trying to get work done. Observe the following:

Speak softly. There is no need to yell. Take your headphones off when people are speaking to you so that you don’t talk at the top of your lungs. If you need to have a group discussion with some other students, please have it in the atrium on the second floor. Do not play loud music on the workstations’ speakers (for those workstations that have ‘em). And don’t you dare pipe the kernel file into /dev/audio at full volume. It won’t be pleasant.


Using the printer requires some etiquette of its own. Everyone should have equal opportunity to print, so everyone needs to observe these guidelines.

Do not print huge documents (like the Chinese newspaper, a GIF of your dream-boy/girl, or the Linux kernel source) at peak hours – or at all, if you can help it; toner and paper aren’t as cheap as you might think, and we’d like to make sure that Zoo printing stays free. If you need to print large documents, either print them late at night when nobody else is around, or use one of the printers in Dunham. DSAC reserves the right to dequeue print jobs or change their priorities. If you notice the printer is out of paper or toner, be courteous and refill it, using the supplies located under the printer table in the open portion of the Zoo, and on the window-sill in the closed portion of the Zoo. If paper or toner has run out, send an e-mail to DSAC. Please don’t leave a mess around the printer. If you don’t like your printout, throw it in the recycling bin. We really don’t want to look at it spread out all around the printer.


Ahh, hacking. There are two definitions for this word. The first, and traditional one, entails staying up all night and writing cool code to distribute freely over the net (or to hand in to a professor). We heartily encourage that. The other, a product of the uninformed media, means intentionally bypassing security systems and/or maliciously damaging data. We don’t like those types of hackers. If you feel tempted to look for passwords or write viruses or violate Yale’s computer security policy in any way, keep in mind that it is illegal, unconstitutional, unethical; that it shows how immature you are; and that it will probably get you prosecuted and/or kicked out of Yale.

And Finally… Now for some miscellaneous tips:

  • Please answer the Zoo phone! It is annoying to call the Zoo and not get an answer just because everybody who is in the Zoo assumes that someone else is going to pick up the phone. “Hello, Zoo,” might be a good way to answer it; we get a few mis-dials from people looking for other departments.
  • Don’t leave windows in the Zoo open when you leave. Help the CS department save on heating / air conditioning costs!
  • Don’t leave the door to the closed portion of the Zoo propped open. The alarm makes a horrible sound!