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Exceptional efforts by IT colleagues

Friday, December 4th, 2020

As we approach the end of a turbulent year caused by a global pandemic and shrinking economies, we are filled with gratitude and pride when we look back on what we achieved and prevented from happening this year. As we see many businesses failing, we recognise our vulnerabilities and exposure to business disruption. The fact that SU could not only maintain and continue its operations, but even accelerate its digitalisation strategy, is evidence of exceptional efforts by the IT colleagues of our university. Nobody foresaw what happened this year. Our response was remarkable, and successful.

More specifically, the following IT-related interventions should be highlighted for the significant contribution to business continuity and support of general productivity:

  • In March, immediate action by IT management in organising the necessary initiatives to upgrade and stabilise the IT infrastructure and services to support increased workload and data flow;
  • Collaboration across functional borders to arrange new services like the provision of laptops to students, and continuously organise the provision of data bundles to qualifying students;
  • Adjustments to administrative information systems to implement management decisions related to operational challenges;
  • Initiatives to form new support structures to support staff and students working at home;
  • Resilience and agility to continue with major projects and deliver on institutional requirements, without using the pandemic as an excuse;
  • Finally, the general willingness to make sacrifices, collaborate and conform to new protocols and ways of working.

To all our partners and colleagues in IT and other functions of the university, we express our sincere gratitude for what we achieved together. We are now in a much better position to plan for known and unknown challenges that may occur on our journey to a digitalised society and university. How soon we’ll get there, depends very much on this good start and our perseverance, maintaining quality standards and focus.

Best wishes for the festive season, and I hope that all of us of will enjoy some rest to prepare for the next challenging year.

Attie Juyn
Senior Director: Information Technology

25 November 2020




Apple update news

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020

Should I upgrade to macOS Big Sur?

macOS 11 Big Sur is now available to the public and it comes with new features and changes. But you may be wondering, should I upgrade to macOS Big Sur on my Mac?

macOS 11 Big Sur has been widely seen as the least stable of the major new Apple software releases this year during the beta period.

Common issues have included graphical issues like problems with external display support, apps freezing, and random reboots. Stability has improved over the course of the beta period and Apple had postponed macOS Big Sur launching to November instead of September or October, but bugs and performance issues are not totally resolved yet.

So, the question remains, should I upgrade to macOS Big Sur?

  • if you have any concerns about app stability, performance issues, and other bugs, hold out at least for the next bug fix update before upgrading (but maybe even a later update depending on your stability tolerance).
  • If you have critical apps that must work, make sure to check for Big Sur compatibility before upgrading whenever you choose to (initial release not recommended if you have crucial apps)


We at IT have received reports of issues with software like Parrallels®, Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Office after upgrading to Big Sur. We recommend that user refrain from upgrading to Big Sur.

Apple’s M1 chipset could have some major compatibility issues

Since Apple made its reveal of the M1 chip during the ‘One More Thing’ event on November 10, everyone has been itching to get their hands on a new MacBook Air or MacBook Pro to see for themselves if this SoC (System on a chip) lives up to its hype. 

Whilst we certainly enjoyed the new machines ourselves, some prominent figures on Twitter are documenting various compatibility issues when using the new M1-powered machines.

Patrick Moorhead (@patrickmoorehead) is a well-known tech analyst, so his claims shouldn’t be dismissed. We’re also seeing other reports popping up over social media sites that reveal his problems are not isolated issues, to the point where a web service called ‘Is Apple Silicon Ready?’ has now been set up to track the compatibility of important Mac software and found around 40% had compatibility issues.

How to check your apps are silicon ready

You can check your existing applications and the Apple Silicon M1 compatible apps database for yourself using the above service, and follow along on the ‘Is Apple Silicon Ready?’ Twitter account for updates. You can also check the featured story on the Mac App Store that highlights what M1 compatible apps are readily available


If your apps are not compatible with the new M1 chip you are likely to receive errors when installing. Applications are built to run on specific processors, and not every developer has done all the work necessary to make their apps run natively on Apple Silicon Macs. M1-powered Macs can run native, universal (in which the installer carries code for both Intel and Apple chips) and Intel apps.

Apple is encouraging developers to release universal apps where possible and is making it possible to run Intel apps on Apple silicon using emulation technology called Rosetta 2.

What is Rosetta 2?

Rosetta 2 is an emulator designed to bridge the transition between Intel and Apple processors. In short, it translates apps built for Intel so they will run on Apple Silicon.

Without Rosetta 2 you won’t be able to install applications with .pgk extensions. Rosetta 2 according to Apple is not currently available in South Africa.


Laundry, meal and printer quotas closing date

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020

Laundry, meal and printer quotas will be consolidated on Monday 14 December 2020.

Balances for 2020 will be credited against the student accounts. Students will be able to top-up  quota for printing and laundry facilities via Snapscan from Monday 21 December.

For more information contact Sean Davidse at Student Fees.

FortiClient VPN replaced by Citrix

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020

Many of you have been using FortiClient VPN for quite some time to access to internal University services i.e. TeraTerm.  However, FortiClient is built on outdated technology which will no longer be available at the end of January 2021. If you are a Windows user, we recommend that you replace FortiClient with Citrix  Gateway as soon as possible.  Currently there is no support for all Linux versions at the moment but we are investigating possible solutions.

The new service has been made available by Information Technology for students and staff. Citrix Gateway will allow you to access internal, University network-based applications from the Internet. This service, as well as the University, is protected and secured by multi-factor authentication for identity verification and also requires that a device must meet specific security requirements before it is allowed on the University’s network.

Students and permanent staff can migrate to the new VPN service by going to their web browser to the site and follow the on-screen instructions.

SunID users can migrate to SU VPN MSP service by going to their web browser to the site and follow the on-screen instructions.

Alternatively, you can log a request for assistance with the setup of VPN on the ICT Partner Portal.

IT HUB – operating hours during COVID

Saturday, November 21st, 2020

Current operating hours for the IT HUB are 09:00 – 16:00

You can also call the IT HUB at 021 8089289, but preferably log a request on the ICT Partner Portal. This can be done as follows:

  1. Log an issue report on the ICT Partner Portal at
  2. Sign on with your SU username and password.
  3. Select the “ICT Partner Portal” service desk.
  4. Students select the IT HUB option. Staff select the  option depending on the type of issue.
  5.  Fill in the necessary information – if there is an asset number, please include it.
  6.  Add any additional information in the description field.
  7.  Copy any related images, files and emails to the attachment area.
  8.  A staff member will make contact once the report has been logged and schedule an appointment.

All services offered by the IT HUB in the Admin A building – collection of equipment and all other types of support – are available by prior arrangement only.

Students should make appointments by logging a call at the online service desk in advance. Appointments can no longer be logged at the entrance to the IT HUB and call log ID (ICT-#) can no longer be done at the IT HUB .

Students and staff members who have lost their student/staff cards are the only unscheduled visitors allowed at the IT HUB, and only between 11:00 and 14:00 daily.


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