We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Computing and Information Services

Desktop Services

Computing and Information Services (CIS) is responsible for providing Managed Desktop Services across Windows, Linux, and MacOS platforms. These desktop services provide staff and students with fit for use, stable and predictable environment with requisite software, tools, printer and storage connections. CIS promote manage services for reasons of support and security, and to assure service standards. Services across all three platforms are developed and evolve with feedback from end-users.

The IT Service Desk is the initial point of contact for ALL desktop queries

Microsoft Windows (Managed Desktop)

CIS’s Windows-based desktop service is called Managed Desktop. All derivatives are fully supported by CIS and its support services, and provide users with the following core features and benefits:

  • 64-bit Windows 10.
  • Fully compatible with all Lenovo PC hardware.
  • Automatic Operating System and software patching.
  • Easily restorable – all machines of this build can be quickly re-imaged and recovered to their original state.
  • Disk encryption (where available).
  • Core software inclusive of Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, Sophos endpoint security and CIS asset inventory agents. Additional software delivery through automated managed deployments and access to the App Hub.
  • Access to the central print service and central / cloud subscribed file stores.

There are four main derivatives of Managed Desktop, employing different configurations and policies according to end users’ requirements.


The desktop service that underpins teaching and learning activities on approximately 2,500 PCs in classrooms and open access PC areas across the University. The service is available to staff and students, and provides access to a large software suite and all core desktop benefits.


The desktop service designed for University staff and postgraduates to underpin all aspects of teaching, research, and administration. This service is adopted by all departments, colleges and business units on nearly 3,500 PCs across the University, and is subtly different to the Teaching build in terms of access controls, software availability, and personalisation options.


The desktop service providing a locked down, secure kiosk environment for dedicated functions including external visitor access, Library catalogue searching, and quick access to University e-mail or other web services.


The desktop service designed for machines across the University required for specialist use-cases and extended hours of operation; translating most typically to research, experiments, and other long-running processes. Lab build provides optimised configuration over Staff and Teaching builds in terms of access controls, uninterrupted use, performance, and persistent user profiles.

Windows 7

The predecessor to Windows 10’s Staff Desktop, Managed Desktop Service is a legacy supported service currently being phased out ahead of Microsoft terminating its support in January 2020.

Linux (Linux Desktop Service)

The Linux Desktop Service is suitable for staff and postgraduates with Linux computing requirements and provides the benefits of a managed, supported service with the flexibility of a Linux desktop.

The service is not generally suitable for staff with administrative responsibilities as it will not support Windows-based applications such as Oracle Financials or Banner.

The Linux desktop is built upon Debian 8.x, the latest long term support release. Amongst the key features are:

  • Mate desktop, with a suite of core applications including LibreOffice for office, Iceweasel (Firefox) for web-browsing, and IceDove for email, deployed to every dual boot machines in key computer classrooms
  • A wider range of applications, including some scientific packages deployed by default
  • Secure access to both personal and departmental data storage
  • Upgrades and security fixes pushed automatically to the desktop
  • Access to the existing MDS Printing system
  • Fully restorable configuration in the unlikely event that a major software or hardware problem damages the system
  • Advice and support from the IT Service Desk for core applications
  • Local administrative access is available on request

MacOS (Apple Desktop Service)

The Apple Desktop Service is currently in development, and is expected to be introduced as a service by the end of summer 2019. The service will be based upon Jamf Pro and Apple’s Device Enrolment Programme (DEP), and offer similar features and functionality to the Linux and Windows equivalent services.

IT Service Catalogue