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Using remote Linux

Last updated: October 2012

This section is about accessing the remote access linux server. This allows you direct access to your DS-Filestore files and to suitable MCS Linux applications from anywhere in the University or elsewhere.

Using SSH

The remote access server can be accessed from any computer with an SSH (version 2) client (e.g. ssh from a Unix system including Mac OS X, PuTTY from a Windows system), using your standard Desktop Services username and password. The host name to connect to is linux.ds.cam.ac.uk.

All of the text mode utilities and tools are available; files can be listed, moved, renamed etc. and modified with a text editor (emacs or vi, for example).

Using X over SSH

If the local client has an X server, and the SSH client supports it, you can also run most graphical applications remotely, e.g.

  • from a Windows system, using an X server, for example ExCeed or Cygwin (see below)
  • from a Unix (including MacOS X) system with a local X server running use ssh -Y linux.pwf.cam.ac.uk. If using -Y fails then try using -X instead.

Using graphical applications remotely will require significantly more bandwidth, so a decent broadband or CUDN connection will be required for effective use. Anything which requires physical access clearly will not work remotely, so no USB devices are available, and nothing which plays sounds.

Notes on ExCeed and Cygwin

  • ExCeed. Recent versions of ExCeed have SSH support as a separate module; for older versions you will need to use ExCeed with PuTTY to provide the SSH connection.
  • Cygwin. This includes both OpenSSH and an X server. To install it go to http://cygwin.com/ and select the Install Cygwin link in the left hand menu.
    • In the package installation screen make sure to select openssh from Net and xorg-x11-base from X11.
    • After install open the "Cygwin Shell" and type startx
      An xterm will pop up; type
      ssh -Y linux.ds.cam.ac.uk to establish your connection.

Physics and Computer Laboratory students

The information above also applies to the servers specifically for students in Physics (linux.phy.ds.cam.ac.uk) and the Computer Laboratory (linux.cl.ds.cam.ac.uk). If you can't connect to those, but you can connect to the public servers (linux.ds.cam.ac.uk), then it is probably because you haven't been given access. If you think that you should be able to connect to one of the departmental servers, then your course coordinator is the person to contact. If you do have access a departmental server then you should do your coursework on that server, and not on the public ones.