The SV Section has compiled some recommendations regarding laptops. This information was brought together to address the needs created by the remoteness and other health measures against the spread of COVID-19. It is still relevant today, as it can help you acquire equipment and solve potential computer related issues.
The acquisition of a personal laptop computer that can be used for studying is strongly recommended. If you already own a computer (PC or Mac), it is wiser to “make do” with it first before rushing into expensive equipment. The acquisition of equipment can be done through various commercial channels and in particular through Poseidon (http://poseidon.epfl.ch/), a service that offers computers and computer support to students upon registration and possession of a valid @epfl.ch email address.
Mac or PC? An often technical and very emotional discussion! Each technology has its strengths and weaknesses. The advantage of the Mac is that it also supports a Windows installation. If the main selection criteria is the price, it is generally higher on the Mac side with comparable performances.
Recommendations for computer specifications :
– Screen: do not exceed 15”, these are the largest screens found in SV classrooms. Aim for a computer that is pretty handy to carry around. You should also think about having a computer with a built-in camera for zooms (it is often not mandatory to put your camera on, but it is useful for group work or remote assignments).
– Memory: today, 8Gb is the base with 64bit systems.
– Processor: preferably Intel, QuadCore (prefer the i7 range supporting hyper-threading).
– Graphics card: avoid graphics cards without dedicated memory (using the computer’s main RAM)
– An SSD hard disk drive offers a high level of comfort when booting up the system and launching applications. The cost/capacity remains higher than that of a “classic” hard disk (prefer 7200 rpm). Avoid hybrids (slow disk and SSD part) more or less badly managed by systems.
– Windows 10 Pro 64bits (32bit business software is disappearing, memory management is limited in 32bits and Windows “non” is restricted).
– On the Mac side, OS X is in any case 64bits.
– UNIX-like environment (shell, terminal, text editor) for programming courses. This environment is included on Mac and Linux. It must be installed on Windows. Refer to the teachers of these courses for instructions.
– Check the presence of a wifi connection, which is essential at EPFL and sometimes optional (some Dell laptops for example).
– Some advise the acquisition of a second screen to which to connect one’s laptop with an HDMI plug, useful for viewing the courses in video and working in parallel on one’s computer. These are available for CHF 99 at Migros.
– It can also be interesting to have a Surface Pro or an iPad to take notes during classes (typically OneNote, the Microsoft software that is free for EPFL students). The iPad is handy for taking notes, but is not enough for IT projects.
Recommendations regarding software, utilities and office tools :
– Microsoft Office. “Pro” version (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, +Outlook, +Access) downloadable from the EPFL website. See also the Poseidon website.
– Google EPFL account for students allows sharing documents (drives) and is useful for collaborations between students.
– Zoom with EPFL account.
– Required software for courses: professors and assistants indicate at the beginning of the courses how to acquire and download the required software. It is advisable to install the software with an assistant in class rather than on his or her own. These will include python, anaconda and jupyter.
– Avast! Free Antivirus. Free Antivirus (essential for Windows), requiring only product registration. Available on the developer’s site.
– Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64bit. Free on the Microsoft Dreamspark site of EPFL (Windows systems).
– OpenOffice, LibreOffice. Free and open alternatives to Microsoft Office. The acquisition of Sun / Java by Oracle gave birth to the LibreOffice suite totally independent of these development tools.
By registering at the EPFL, you automatically obtain a Gaspar account and password.
A secure wifi connection is available on campus (information from DIT: http://network.epfl.ch/libre-service/index.html).
It is possible to connect outside the EPFL campus (at home) with a secure intranet access (VPN) (DIT information: http://network.epfl.ch/vpn/). If the “thin” VPN client does not work properly (case possible on Windows), prefer the “native” L2TP/IPsec client. Installation scripts are available to facilitate the configuration task.
REMINDER: From a private machine, vpn or not, you no longer connect to the internal network (Intranet) via the STUDENTS domain but INTRANET. The Gaspar password is then necessary.
On the internet, at the EPFL or not, you just have to connect to the EWA website (http://ewa.epfl.ch). You will then be asked for your Gaspar username and password.
It is also possible (but not recommended) to redirect your EPFL mail to a private address (https://ewa.epfl.ch/tools).
On a personal computer, the configuration of a client application (Outlook, Apple Mail, etc.) requires a few settings (instructions for setting up the applications: https://help-mail.epfl.ch/).
Multifunction printers (jobs to be “released” with your camipro card) are available on campus. These printers are “shared”. When a print job is sent, it is stored on a server. The job can then be retrieved on any multifunction printer in this “pool”, by releasing the queue by authentication (camipro card required). To install centralized multifunction printers, follow the instructions in the “User Manual” given on the VPSI Myprint site (http://myprint.epfl.ch).
Be aware of the quantity of printed documents! Everyone has a printing quota, an amount determined by the EPFL at the beginning of each academic year, per student and per semester. However, each student may, at his or her own expense, top up his or her account on the Myprint site, which centralizes the management of printing (https://www.epfl.ch/campus/services/ressources-informatiques/service-dimpression-myprint/compte-financier/).
In the event of a loss of more than CHF 10.00 (paper jam, demonstrable malfunction), a request for reimbursement may be made. (printing conditions at the EPFL: https://www.epfl.ch/campus/services/ressources-informatiques/service-dimpression-myprint/support/).
REMINDER: From a private machine, in VPN or not, one can only connect to the internal network (Intranet) via the INTRANET domain since 2012. The Gaspar password is then necessary.
Helpdesk of the Central IT Service, DIT: [email protected]
Centralized Printer Service: http://myprint.epfl.ch/
Laptop computers acquired from Poseidon: http://poseidon.epfl.ch/
Guidelines for the use of computers at EPFL: https://polylex.epfl.ch/page-60179-fr.html
Association of Life Sciences Engineering Students (AESV): https://www.epfl.ch/campus/associations/list/aesv/
SV Faculty Computer Department: https://www.epfl.ch/schools/sv/it/