This page and its subpages are currently being
overhauled; some of it may be inaccurate. But
most of it is still correct.
to send feedback to Prof. Schechter.
Introduction to Our Department's Computers
- Overview (at the bottom of this page)
- Summary for newcomers -- equipment, accounts, etc.
- Getting started -- accounts, connecting, logins
- On-line documentation -- man, info, help, etc.
- Simple file manipulation -- cd, ls, rm, cp, mv, mkdir, etc.
Specialized and advanced
Your personal computer
The World Wide Web
These web pages are intended as basic instructions for
faculty, graduate students, and staff of the Vanderbilt
University Department of Mathematics. (Outsiders
are also permitted to read these pages, and might find
it slightly helpful to do so if they have equipment
similar to ours.) We print
out a few of these pages each fall for newcomers to our department, but
all of the pages are available on-line at any time.
This index page, in particular, can be found at http://www.math.vanderbilt.edu/ourequip/.
The web pages listed here cover mainly the basics; more
advanced and detailed instructions can be found in
man pages, info pages, and other
documentation files; there are also some printed
manuals in room 1427. By the way, I would be grateful
for any assistance in maintaining and updating these
web pages; feel free to write a few paragraphs about
any hardware or software that you are familiar with.
Our department purchased computers separate from the university's
centralized computer system, in order to provide a Unix environment for
program development. Unix makes things like grep, perl, C, and shell
scripts available, and is more suitable than the university's system for
our research programming. By maintaining our own computer system, we
also have closer control over programs that we use frequently, such as
TeX (several flavors), Mathematica, Matlab, C,
word-processing (including Emacs and VI),
spreadsheets, email (including Berkeley and Pine),
web browsers (including Netscape and Lynx), and
Most of our department's servers, laser printers, and
terminals are in room 1427. We keep the door closed
and locked all the time, but all department personnel
have keys. A few graduate students have
gotten the notion that that room is not intended
for their use; let me take this opportunity to dispel
that notion. Math department graduate students (as well
as faculty and staff) are permitted,
and encouraged, to use the equipment in room 1427.
Just don't leave the door open, and don't bring in any
food, drinks, or boomboxes.
Most of our equipment is "up" (i.e., running) most of
the time, but occasionally some of it is "down" (i.e.,
unavailable) for a brief time -- either intentionally
(for upgrades or maintenance) or unintentionally (if
something is malfunctioning). You'll get advance
warning for intentional downtime. For unintentional
downtime, our superusers have been very good about
fixing things quickly, and for this we are all
(For internet beginners, here is some terminology.
A big computer
is a "server"; several people can be logged into it
simultaneously through terminals. We have several
terminals in room 1427. If you have a personal
computer of your own, it can also
be used as a terminal, through your modem or other
internet connection. The terminals are "clients" which
are "served" by the server.)
We have several different servers. Our main servers
share user file disks, so you have the same document
files (and many of the same programs) available to you
no matter which server you log into.
At present (25 Oct 2002), our servers are
Your username and password for all of these computers is the same.
A user's atlas directory shows up as "atlas" in the user's home directory on the other machines.
- atlas.math.vanderbilt.edu can also be accessed more briefly as
It is a Dell 4600 with dual 2.2 GHz Xeon processors running
Linux (Red Hat distribution).
This is our "main" computer; it holds most
users' document files.
It is intended for text-editing, latex, and other general purposes.
are dual xeon 3.2 GHz cpu servers. These
are intended for more computationally intensive projects.
- nike.math.vanderbilt.edu is a
single xeon 3.0 GHz cpu graphics workstation.
- cronus.math.vanderbilt.edu is a DEC Personal Workstation 600au. It has a 600
MHz Alpha processor, a 21" monitor, and a graphics card that was quite
good at the time when we purchased it. (By today's standards it is
not exceptionally fast.) This computer is intended for running
applications that need fast graphics. It is accessible to everyone in
- argus.math.vanderbilt.edu is a Dec Alpha server
2000 5/300 running Digital Unix
(also known as OSF/1). It is not for general use.
- webtester.math.vanderbilt.edu is an
AlphaServer DS20, not for general use. It is
being used exclusively for the
In addition to our servers, we have eight fairly powerful
"personal" computers in rooms 1227, 1232, and 1427,
all intended for math department
general use (i.e., by faculty, graduate students, conference
participants, and other official visitors).
A couple of these are configured as Linux workstations; the
rest are configured with Windows XP.
You can see online descriptions of most of
our Windows software.
We also have several departmental
in rooms 1427, 1326, and 1227 (in addition to personal printers owned
by some faculty members). We also
have one fairly recent scanner in 1427.
Equipment outside our department. In addition to our
department's equipment, you can also use your own equipment, or
some other equipment
belonging to the college or the university. This may be useful
to you in a few ways:
- Our department's servers are attached to the internet.
This means that anyone in the world can look at our web
pages. It also means that you can log into
your Atlas account from at home, if
your home computer is attached to any Internet Service Provider,
such as America Online or Comcast@Home (formerly Intermedia@Home).
A list of
locally available ISP's is posted by ITS.
- Vanderbilt itself is a free Internet Service Provider, for members
of the Vanderbilt community; that's called "VUaccess dialup". More
information is given here. However, priority
is given to students. Faculty and staff will find that "VUaccess
dialup" gives them busy signals much of the time. For this reason, many
of our faculty and staff, and even some of our graduate students, have
elected to pay for commercial services such as Comcast@Home.
- Vanderbilt's central computing facilities offer some useful
services for all of us. For instance, if you have a Vanderbilt
VUNet ID, you can use some of the Vanderbilt library's proprietary
online databases. Also, we're in the process of moving our email
system from our departmental computer to the VU central system;
soon we'll all have email outside the departmental system.
- Undergraduate students are not admitted to room 1427,
but they can go to
university's computer labs.
Feel free to tell your students about those labs.
Math web page, latest alterations
13 Oct 2005