Last updated: October 2012
This page is about using Linux on a PC in a Managed Cluster. MCS Linux can also be used by remote login from any system; see the lefthand navigation. See also information on using DS-Files in MCS Linux and on printing using DS-Print
IS 20: Information for New Users - Linux on the MCS covers the ways to start Linux on an MCS machine which is running under the default Windows operating system, and how to log in and log out.
Please remember to log out when you have finished. Failure to do so could result in another user reading, altering or deleting your files, or sending emails from your account.
MCS Linux is based on Ubuntu and uses the Unity interface to the GNOME desktop environment. Once you have logged in, the login window shows the Message of the Day, the launcher on the left hand side of the screen and the top menu bar.
Hovering your mouse over an icon will show the application name or a a short informative label.
Icons for commonly used applications (Dash Home, Home Folder, Firefox web brower, office suite, Settings) are in the launcher. To start one of these, single-click on the icon using the left mouse button.
To access the other applications in MCS Linux, click on the top icon in the launcher bar (Dash Home), then the centre icon at the bottom of the window.
Applications are broadly divided into Supported and Unsupported (help and advice may be available for the latter group, but this can not be guaranteed). To see all the applications in a group click on the link beside the name. Alternatively, to see only the applications of a particular Type, click on the name of the type (e.g. Email and Messaging
The fundamental application on an MCS Linux system is the command line interface, or shell, because every application that can be launched from the menu system can also be launched from the command line and there are many applications and utilities that only work at the command line. The shell also provides a syntax for combining commands and for running commands only under certain circumstances. If you want to do any automation for processing large numbers of files then you will need to understand the command line. If you are happy with the applications and commands provided by the menuing system then you need not worry about it.
There are two ways to launch a window running a shell. You can either click on the Terminal icon in the launcher, or you can select Dash Home -> Applications -> Unix Shell, then select your preferred terminal type. Either way, you should have a window appear. If you have chosen Terminal using either method the terminal started will look something like this:
Once you see the prompt (CRSid
@scone:~$ in the image above) you can start typing commands.
See the instructions in IS 6: Changing/Choosing Passwords. If you have forgotten your password you will need to have it reset. See the FAQ on What should I do if I've forgotten my password or it doesn't work?.
The Message of the Day and UCS News provide information about events on the MCS. The Message of the Day is shown at login, the MCS-specific news on the UCS News service is at UCS News - MCS Service.
The MCS systems are designed to be used by the widest possible audience and the operating systems include features that allow those with special needs to adjust their interface. For MCS Linux these are documented in the Linux section of M351: Accessibility and Computing Service Facilities.
Applications available on MCS Linux
The supported mail clients are Thunderbird, Evolution, and the command-line Alpine.
- To use Alpine type alpine at the command line or, from Dash Home -> Applications -> Type, select Email & Messaging -> Alpine. Alpine is preconfigured to connect to Hermes.
- To use Thunderbird, type thunderbird at the command line or, from Dash Home -> Applications -> Type, select Email & Messaging -> Thunderbird. Thunderbird is not preconfigured so if you wish to use it you will need to configure it; see the page on configuring Thunderbird for Hermes for help.
- To use Evolution (email, contact management, appointment and task scheduling), type evolution at the command line or, from Dash Home -> Applications -> Type, select Email & Messaging -> Evolution Mail & Calendar. Evolution is not preconfigured so if you wish to use it you will need to configure it; see Mail program settings for Hermes for help.
The Hermes webmail service is available using any browser.
Management of email (e.g. vacation messages, spam filtering) should be done through the webmail interface.
World Wide Web browsers
Firefox is the supported browser and can be started by single-clicking the icon in the panel ().
Chromium is available, but not officially supported, and can be accessed from Dash Home -> Applications -> Type, then select it from Web Browsing -> Unsupported. The Text-based browsers lynx and w3m are also available; to start these type the program name in a terminal window.
You will need to configure any unsupported browser that you wish to use.