Technical Note - Requesting a Different Username

Summary

This technote details the ECS policy and other considerations associated with requests from students to change their ECS login name from that assigned by default.

Details

Default Username

By default ECS creates student login names following the pattern established by the university's student computing system (SCS). That is, the login name consists of up to six characters of the student's family name followed by up to four characters of their given name. If the resulting login name already exists a digit will be added to the end of the new login to distinguish it from the existing one.

However ECS does allow graduate students to choose a different login name than the default if they wish. For this purpose, a student is considered to be a "graduate" if they are enrolled in at least one ECS/MSOR course at 400-level or above. Students who are not enrolled in any such courses do not automatically qualify for this privilege even if they have completed an undergraduate degree or are enrolled in graduate courses in another school in the university.

Requesting a Login Name Change During Account Registration

Before using their ECS account a person has to go through the account registration process. This process is described in more detail in the account registration technote. If the registration system determines that the student is a "graduate" (see above) it will give them the opportunity to choose a different login name.

If this option is chosen the student will not be able to complete the registration procedure at that time. Instead, the registration system sends the change request to the ECS IT support staff who then have to manually make the required changes to the student's account. When making the request its a good idea to include a non-ECS email address which we can use to notify the student when the change has been made.

We are unable to make any guarantees as to when the change will be done by. Depending on how busy we are, it may only take a few hours or it may not be done until the next day. We will make every effort to ensure that it is done by the end of the next working day though. See the section What Happens Next for more information on the process.

Requesting a Login Name Change After Registration

Some students become entitled to request a different username without having to (re-)register their account. This happens if there was no period during which their account was suspended immediately before their first 400-level course commencing (eg: if they were employed as a research assistant over the summer break). Or a new graduate student may decide not to request a login name change when they first register but may later change their mind.

In either case the process for requesting the change is the same. You should send an email to jobs@ecs.vuw.ac.nz telling us what you'd like your login name changed to and we'll let you know whether your request can be granted.

When making the change we need to ensure that you aren't logged on to any ECS systems so we'll have to agree on a mutually convenient period during which when the change can be made. Once you have given us the go-ahead to make the change we will disable your login access. All going well, you should be able to use your account again within a couple of hours, but we don't guarantee that. Unforeseen circumstances may mean we can't respond to your request promptly, so all we will say is that your account should be available again by the end of the next working day. If we have a non-ECS email address for you we will let you know when the change has been made.

What Happens Next?

Regardless of whether you requested a name change during account registration or via an email to jobs@ecs.vuw.ac.nz, the process from here on is identical. If we don't have a non-ECS email address we can use to tell you when you can use your account again you will have to periodically attempt to re-register your account to see what the system thinks your login name is. If the change has not yet been done try again a bit later, repeating as often as necessary! If at any point you decide not to change your username just complete the registration with your old username, effectively canceling the change request.

Once the name change has been made, complete the registration process and then you should be able to log on to our systems using your new login name.

Consequences of Changing Your Login Name

Unfortunately changing your login name is not without some potential negative side effects.

The main problem arises because many modern applications embed login names into various configuration files that they use. If your login name changes these configuration files may no longer be valid which may cause the corresponding application to fail.

One of the biggest culprits here is the KDE desktop system that we use as our default login environment. Unfortunately failure of certain key KDE applications may mean you are unable to log in to our system. The easiest way for us to fix this is to reinitialise all your KDE application configuration files to initial default settings. This will result in any KDE customisations you have made (personalised desktop backgrounds, customised menus, font selections, colours, etc) being lost.

If you have changed your default desktop environment to something other than KDE (ie: GNOME) we will not reinitialise its settings and so your login may fail. If you don't have some idea of how to fix this yourself you shouldn't have changed your desktop environment and/or shouldn't request a login name change!

It is also impossible for us to fix the configurations of the many non-KDE applications that you might have used, so you will have to deal with any resulting breakage yourself. Your ability to log in probably won't be affected by these but it may nevertheless be inconvenient if you can't (easily) get particular applications working properly.

Another potential problem is that any links to personal ECS web pages you have will be broken. And no, we will not configure our web server to support both your old and new login names. You wanted the change so you can deal with the consequences!

The Next Step

If after reading the above you still wish to request a different login name, make the request during the registration process or by sending an email to jobs@ecs.vuw.ac.nz to get the process underway.