Getting Started

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Welcome to the Mathematics and Computer Science Division. We hope you will have a pleasant and productive visit. This document will give you a quick introduction to the computing resources available in the division, login instructions, and ways to find more information. In an effort to conserve trees and energy, other documents containing more details about our computing environment have been placed online.

Computing Resources

The MCS Division offers and maintains these general computing resources:

  • A network of workstations (mostly Linux machines), which are the day-to-day desktop computing resources used for editing, electronic mail, text processing, symbolic math programs, and so on.
  • When connecting to MCS resources from offsite you can ssh into, you will need to use an ssh key in order to connect. is actually a cname that points to one of four general use login machines: login1, login2, login3 and login4. They are designed only for low impact, interactive use and should never be used to run computations. They are intended to serve as a way for our authenticated users to get into our environment from the outside. Long running or CPU intensive processes should never be run on these machines and if we are alerted that the machine is overloaded we will kill the offending jobs or reboot the machine or both.
  • For access to a system more powerful than your workstation you should see your sponsor/host/supervisor for better alternatives.
  • If you are having trouble finding a machine to run code on you can use any of our standalone compute servers They have the exact same environment as our workstations, but more CPU and memory. There are some largish multi core cpu machines, some 64bit processors and a couple of 32 bit machines. We even have one machine with 1,500GB of memory.

Logging In to UNIX Workstations

If you are using a provided MCS Linux workstation, you should be able to login with your MCS username and password.

You can also log in from off-site via ssh to . Please see the Offsite Access FAQ at for a list of machines that are accessible outside our firewall.

Use your Personal Account Page to change your password. Please make your password at least eight characters long, and include at least one capital latter, number and special character in it. Make it something you'll remember, but not any name or any word that would be found in a dictionary. There are some other important rules to follow to create a strong password; please see the Password Guidelines at for more information.

Please check with your sponsor if you find you don't have access to a machine you think you need.

Receiving Email

By default, your email may be forwarded to the address provided to Systems on your account request form. To remove this forwarding, see here.

Getting Help

There are several ways to obtain help:

  • You can access web-based information about MCS projects, commonly-used utilities, and MCS-developed software at All MCS supported systems have Firefox installed, and it is our recommended browser.
  • Information about various aspects of computing at MCS can be found by following the "About" and "Software" links from the MCS home page.
  • Contact your sponsor for information on which machine(s) you are expected to use. If you have problems, ask your sponsor for help first. The Systems Group is also available to assist you, though the expectation is that your sponsor or others you are working with should be able to assist you first.
  • If you have a question or problem that your sponsor can't help you with, please send email to

If you have a problem that prevents you from sending email to Systems, you can reach the Help Desk at 2-6813. Help Desk hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM - 11:30 AM and 12:30 PM - 5:00 PM.

Important Note

This is an online document. If you are reading a printed version of this, please visit for the most recent version. Please report inaccuracies to Systems.