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Contact Addresses

How to Contact the ODCF

IT related requests (cluster access, software installations, cluster issues, workstation problems, technical issues ecc.):

mail: odcf-itsupport@dkfz-heidelberg.de
phone: 06221 42 3568 (currently not operated due to home office)

Requests regarding group management (group changes, new groups), project management (new projects, project changes), project data, sample swaps, DTAs, data access, Aspera, bioinformatics and OTP operation:

How to write useful support requests

To avoid time and resource consuming call backs and back-and-forth mails please be complete and informative when writing your support tickets:

Never ever reply to old and unrelated tickets when posting a new issue

Always write a fresh-from-scratch mail when reporting a new issue. Replying to old issues will reopen these tickets and a) break the organization and thematical coherency of an issue report and b) might lead to the mail to go unnoticed, as it will be placed in an already solved ticket. Such postings require time-consuming manual work on our side to disentangle them.

Replying by changing the subject doesn't help, as the ticketing system recognizes old threads from hidden mail headers, which are preserved when replying. The only situation where you should reply is, when your current issue is clearly still the old one. If you are in doubt rather open a new ticket and mention the old one. Merging tickets is much easier then disentangling unrelated ones :-).

Use an informative and summarizing email subject

The email subject is the first thing we see and we use it to quickly classify and prioritize a support ticket. Please keep it as concise and complete as possible. We don't mind long subject lines as long as they contain relevant information.

  • Good: “Running software xyz fails with library dependency error”, “Logging in to tbi-worker fails with error 'Connection closed'”, “Please install xyz package for R 3.6 on PBS cluster”
  • Bad: “Software xyz doesn't work”, “Can't log in to cluster”, “Please install xyz package for R”
  • Extremely bad: “help, urgent!”, “problem”, “software installation”

Don't mix unrelated topics in a single request

Please create an individual ticket for each (unrelated) question. Mixing unrelated topics in a single ticket makes ticket management hard and ineffective for the supporters.

Mention base software and platform when asking for software add-ons

When asking for software add-ons like R or Python packages and Perl modules always let us know for which version of the base package you require the add-on and on which platform (SuSE or CentOS) it is required.

If you mention it in the subject (which is good!) still repeat the complete request in the mail body. Email subjects are sometimes changed within the ticketing system to canonicalize them or the make them better searchable. All relevant content should be contained in the mail body.

Help us reproduce your issue

Help us reproduce your issue (that helps us to test our solution) by telling us exactly what you did (commands, scripts, loaded modules) and where you did it (hostname, which cluster, which cluster node).

Be complete regarding error messages

Help us to understand your problem by sending commands and resulting error messages or error logs. Unless you are an expert and already know for sure the cause of a problem, then don't try to be smart by trimming error messages or error logs. Not so rarely the helpful statements are exactly in the cut-out part :-).

Short (up to 20 to 30 lines) error message can be sent directly in the email. For output which exceeds around 30 lines please send it in an attached text file. Please do not send us such information as screenshot, image or office document!

Don't send us screenshots of commandline output

If your problem is related to commandline output (Linux terminal, RStudio Workbench sessions ecc.), then please don't send us screenshots, but the copied text in your request. Screenshots are often not helpful, as we cannot copy-paste commands and error messages from them to reproduce the issue.

Don't attach office files to your tickets

The supporters work in different environments and don't always have access to office software. Therefore please don't attach office files to your tickets. Acceptable file types for attachments are plaintext files, image files (jpeg, png, gif) and - if special pre-existing documents need to be attached - PDF.

Don't attach datafiles to your tickets

Attaching scripts to the ticket is ok, but please don't attach datafiles. If you need to send us datafiles then please provide them in some place in the filesystem (e.g. in analysis). As administrators we can access them almost not matter where they are stored. If you refer to these files in the ticket we will understand this as an approval to access them or to make copies of them for testing purposes. If that isn't the case then please let us know.

How update your tickets

As soon as you have received an answer from us, you can simply reply to it. Please try to keep answers short and readable. As all communication is stored in the ticketing system, there is no need to cite the complete previous thread in the answer. Cut out the non-relevant parts and just keep the parts you are currently answering to.

In cases where you need to update a ticket before you got an answer from us, you can reply to your own(!) stored sent mail or the Bcc you had sent to yourself (don't forget to change the addressee in the latter case). The ticketing system will recognize the hidden headers and email identifiers (see above) and add your mail to the correct ticket.

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contact.txt · Last modified: 2022/08/17 14:22 by Thommen, Frank

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