Computer Laboratory

The RT ticketing system

We use a system called RT for problem tracking. RT has several queues such as sys-admin, win-admin etc. When new e-mail is sent to a queue address like sys-admin@cl.cam.ac.uk, the system creates a ticket which is a new record with a unique identifier. The tickets are displayed to sys-admins on a web page which shows unresolved problems and their status. This helps to keep track of correspondence related to particular problems and prevents tickets from being forgotten or languishing un-attended for too long.

The queues

sys-admin
System and network administration in general
unix-admin
Unix/Linux systems administration
win-admin
Windows systems administration
printing
For issues relating to printers and printing
building-services
For anything to do with the building and other physical infrastructure

If you are unsure about which queue to send your item, send it to sys-admin – we can easily move the ticket to a different queue if necessary.

In addition to the above there are other queues which tickets are moved to. For example there is hardware-admin which is a queue to which hardware-related items are moved. In the first instance though all fault reports should go through one of the above listed queues.

It helps us if tickets are each about one distinct item. If you have several requests which are all different and you expect could be dealt with by different people, then please send separate e-mails – it helps us manage the work better.

The process

When you first send mail to a queue on a new subject, a ticket is created and you are sent an automatic reply with the ticket reference, e.g. [rt.cl.cam.ac.uk #2830], in the subject line. This should be quoted in the subject line on all further correspondence relating to that matter.

When the new ticket is created, all watchers of the given queue are notified by e-mail. At some point one will take ownership of the ticket and start work on it until it is resolved, whereupon it disappears from the queue. Any resolved ticket can be resurrected by someone sending further correspondence to the queue address with that ticket's identifier in the subject line.

The RT system maintains a history for each ticket on the system (so it is not necessary to quote past correspondence for us when you reply to e-mails sent via RT.) E-mail correspondence is always via RT and will show as being e.g. From: Chris Hadley via RT <sys-admin@cl.cam.ac.uk> so replies 'to sender' go via RT and are logged.

Seeing your own tickets

If you go to SelfService you will see a list of the tickets which you have sent to RT. This uses Raven authentication, so if you already have a Raven cookie you will be taken right in.

I can't see my own tickets at SelfService

When you send an email to sys-admin@cl.cam.ac.uk this will be directed to RT. RT uses the email address of the sender as a user identifier, so the first thing it does is to see if it has already received email from that sender. If it has it adds it to the list, if it hasn't it creates a user with the email address as the identifier. So if a person called John Smith, with CRSID js123, sends an email from his hermes account then a user with identifier js123@cam.ac.uk will be created.

When you login at SelfService, RT logs you in using your CRSID as a user identifier. Thus if the person called John Smith, with CRSID js123, logs in to SelfService then a user with identifier js123 will be created.

It is obvious that js123@cam.ac.uk and js123 are the same person, but RT doesn't realise that, so user js123 by default cannot see tickets belonging to user js123@cam.ac.uk. Hence, when you first login to SelfService you may find an empty list of tickets, unless an administrator has previously told RT to merge the two users js123 and js123@cam.ac.uk and treat them as a single user.

Likewise, if you sometimes use more than one email address, then RT won't know that email from these other addresses belongs to you. So you could easily end up with several identities in RT: js123, js123@cam.ac.uk, js123@hermes.cam.ac.uk, js123@cl.cam.ac.uk, John.Smith@cl.cam.ac.uk, johnsmith9999@gmail.com, etc. RT will only show tickets for the identity that has been merged with js123 by an administrator.

If you cannot see all the tickets that you think should be there please email rt-admin@cl.cam.ac.uk with a list of the email addresses that you think you have sent from - we can guess at local addresses within cam.ac.uk, but will have no clue about gmail, hotmail or other non-local addresses.

Another possibility is that the ticket has been sent from a list or role address rather than your own. RT does not expand lists and will treat the list address as an individual user, rather than as a set. If you want to see tickets sent from such an address you will have to discuss this with rt-admin@cl.cam.ac.uk.