The default operating system for PCs connected to the Computing Service MCS network is Windows. However in some of the MCS rooms, including all the Computing Service MCS rooms, it is also possible to use Linux (a list of operating systems available at Institution Managed Cluster sites is on this page).
MCS Linux is based on Ubuntu, but with some local features and restrictions. You need to be registered for the MCS to use the machines. If you are not already registered, you will need to fill in an application form. This is available online (the form is also available from Computing Service Reception).
In the instructions below, click means click the index finger button (left-hand button in the default mouse setup) unless otherwise specified. See Using an MCS Linux PC for reconfiguring the mouse for left-handed use.
You will usually find that a PC in a MCS room is already switched on, and displaying a Windows information screen. If the screen is blank, move the mouse to refresh the display. If the machine is, exceptionally, switched off, switch it on and go to step 2, below.
- Hold down the
Altkeys while pressing
Delete. A warning message about use of the system is displayed; click on OK. This produces a Windows login box; instead of doing this, select Shutdown.. followed by Restart from the pull-down menu, and then OK.
- After some preliminary checks, the system will ask you to select (within 30 seconds) the operating system to start; use the down arrow key to highlight MCS Linux and then press Return to confirm your choice. If you wait too long to make your selection, the system will start in Windows.
- A splash screen appears and the system continues to boot into Linux. If the system had to update itself this may take some time and it may reboot.
- A dialog box is displayed, asking for your username. Enter your CRSid (e.g. spqr99) then press Return.
- A dialog box is displayed, asking for your password.
Enter your Desktop Services password then
- You will see a window containing the Message of the Day then, after the window manager (Unity interface to the GNOME desktop environment) has completely started, the launcher and a menu bar appear.
On the left hand side of the screen is the Launcher. Hovering the mouse over each icon shows the name of the application.
At the left of the top menu bar is the name of the currently active application. Moving the mouse to this will show the menu options for that application. At the far right are a set of information icons; clicking the mouse on each gives the menu for each icon. The icons are for communications, connection information, sound, date and time and, at the far right, the cogwheel icon menu includes access to system settings, the MCS printers and log out.
To access the other applications in MCS Linux, click on the top icon in the launcher bar (Dash Home).
The window that opens has three icons at the bottom. The left hand one shows you applications and files you have recently used. The centre one gives access to the various applications (this is shown in the screenshot above). The right hand icon shows your folders and any files you have accessed recently.
Mouse and window operations
The main operations you may want are:
clicking the right mouse button, for example on a window or on the background, gives a context-sensitive menu.
The left icon closes the window, the centre icon is to minimise the window (to the launcher) and the right icon to maxmise it (to fill the screen). Other window operations:-
- click and drag on window border to resize the window
- click and drag on a window's title bar to move the window
To log out from the MCS click on the cogwheel item at the right of the menu bar at the top of the screen and choose Log Out. Doing this returns you to the login screen, from which you can login to Linux again or choose to reboot the system into Windows. A machine left in this state for roughly 30 minutes will automatically be rebooted into Windows.
MCS Linux is also accessible remotely, details are in Using remote Linux on the MCS.
30 Useful Unix Commands, intended for Unix beginners who need a guide to the names and details of commands that are likely to be of use to them.
Last updated: February 2012