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Getting Started on a Unix Cluster

When you receive your account information including your account name and initial password, log onto your cluster and change your password. If you are with the Chemistry Dept. or the HET group in Physics, your cluster name is If you are in Geological Sciences, your cluster name is

Log in

From a unix system, Mac OS X or a Windows system, you will want to start a terminal window or an xterm window. From within the window type:


See the first paragraph to find your computername.subnet.

To find the Mac terminal window go to the Finder menu -> Go -> Utilities -> Terminal. The graphics terminal program, X11 will also be located there.

If you are logging in from a Windows computer, you will need to run SSH or putty to create a terminal window. Putty is available from the Brown software download page, Fill in the SSH or putty forms with the name of the computer cluster and your account information.

Change your Password

In the terminal window, type


You will asked for your intial password and twice for your new password.

Passwords must be at least eight characters long. Passwords should not contain proper names or words in any dictionary. Passwords must be a mixture of upper and lower case and of alphabetic and none alphabetic characters.

Your Computer Environment

Users on micah and ted who are programmers are usually set up with a bash shell. Users wanting to run Gaussian and Amber on the Chemistry cluster are set up with a csh shell. Shells are the translators of the commands that you type into the terminal for the system.

To see how your environmental variables have been defined, type


Some of the variables to note are your SHELL and PRINTER.

If you are using a bash shell, .bashrc contains some of the definitions that define your computing environment including paths you will need to compile your programs.

If you are using a csh shell. .cshrc contains the definitions necessary to run Gaussian and Amber.

To define a variable, you would use the following syntax

bash shell: export VARIABLENAME=definition
csh shell: setenv VARIABLENAME definition

where VARIABLENAME and definition fit your needs.

On Line Linux Courses

Margaret Doll 9-2008