Physics Computing Services

General Computing Information for New Graduate Students

Where do I Start?

Accounts can be requested through our online forms.

Once your form has been submitted and processed, you will receive a confirmation e-mail that your accounts have been created on the e-mail server, web server, graduate AFS file server, and INST domain.

The first thing you should do is reset your passwords to something private.

  • To change your e-mail and web password, visit
  • To change your AFS password, ssh into, and use the command kpasswd (font change).
  • To change your INST domain password, login a Windows or OS X machine connected to the INST domain. Once authenticated, hit ctrl-alt-delete, and click the "Change password" button.


There are several ways to access your Physics e-mail account.

Common Questions:

Mailing Lists

By default, all e-mail accounts are added to the and mailing lists. These lists are moderated by administrative staff members, and used to disseminate important information.

The Grads mailing list is administrated by the Graduate Advisor, and used to pass information related to graduate students in the Physics Department, such as deadlines and employment opportunities. If you are having any problems receiving or posting to this list, e-mail

The Grads-Rec mailing list is for department grad students use for things unrelated to department affairs. Users must sign themselves up.

Sign up for the Physics Colloquia Announcement mailing list to receive e-mail notifications about the Physics Colloquia schedule.

Information on administrating your own mailing list.


It is up the users to enter their personal information into the Physics webserver to be made public. Personal information can include your phone number, office location, personal webpage, etc. The webserver is also used to sign up for and display TA office hours.

New graduate students should first change their webserver password by visiting

Update your information by logging into the webserver's database by clicking the "Update your information" link at the bottom of the list of graduate students.

More information on using the webserver can be found here.

Questions regarding your office hours should be sent to the Head TA.

Graduate Student Computing Facilities

The Graduate Student Computing Facilities is located in Broida 5207. This room is for Physics graduate students only, and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The following resources are available:

  • Six computers running RedHat Enterprise Linux v4
  • Two Intel based Mac Minis which dual-boot OS X and WinXP
  • Two PCs running Windows with scanners attached
  • A black and white duplex laser printer
  • A color laser printer

Accessing the room:

  • Use your six-digit doorcode, followed by a * to enter the room (i.e.: 123456*).
  • Your doorcode will need to be renewed annually at the end of summer. You will be contacted via e-mail.
  • Never share your doorcode or passwords. Failure to comply is grounds for revoking your computer privileges.

Basic Rules for the Computing Facilities

  • Do not attempt installation of ANY software without notifying PCS.
  • Do not shut down any of the computers.
  • When leaving the room, log out.
  • Do not to lock a console for longer then 30 minutes if you are returning.
  • If you running a labor intensive CPU process, "nice" or "renice" it.
  • If you are running a process for more then one hour, "nice" or "renice" it to 19.
  • If you are running a process for more than one hour, please run it in the background AND "nice" it to 19.
  • Follow all rules highlighted in the University of California Electronic Communications Policy.
  • Never share your doorcodes or passwords.
  • Sharing your access codes and/or passwords is grounds for revoking your computer privileges.
  • Be respectful to other users, and keep the room clean.

Using your AFS home directory

We are serving users home directories via AFS. Data stored in AFS is backed up to tape nightly and stored in archives for one year. It is suggested that all graduate students store important physics related data in AFS. Quotas are currently set at 250 megabytes.

Your AFS home directory can be accessed in the following ways:

  • As your home directory on the Linux computers in Broida 5207. These hosts also accept SSH connections from anywhere on the Physics network.
  • SCP/SFTP to This is a Linux server similar to the Linux machines in Broida 5207, but doesn't have an accesible console. This hosts accepts SSH connections from anywhere on the Internet, allowing for use while you are at home or on the road. More information on SSH/SFTP/SCP clients can be found here. Also, users and ssh into, and then ssh into another machine on the physics network (such as the mailserver, Linux computers in 5207, your own desktop, etc).
  • Visit in your web-browser. A php-based file manager is available for basic file uploading and downloading. This was setup for users who are unable to install an SSH/SFTP/SCP client from the computer you are using.
  • From the Windows computers in Broida 5207, AFS is mounted as the M:\ drive. If your INST domain is the same as your AFS password, then you will automatically be granted access to your directory on M:\. If not, then double-click the lock icon in the system tray to authenticate against the AFS server.
  • From the OS X computers in Broida 5207, open a terminal window, and run the command:
      klog [username]; killall Finder
    You should then be able to navigate the AFS icon on the desktop to your home directory.
  • AFS clients can also be installed on your computer. Visit to download the latest client. The Physics department is currently not listed in the CGO Public CellServDB, so you must manually enter the following values:
    • cell name:
      file server name:

Useful things to know with AFS:

  • When backups are ran at 1:00 am every morning, a read-only snapshot is taken, and mounted in your AFS directory as ~/.backup/. If you accidentally delete a file, you can restore it by copying it out of ~/.backup. If you need a file restored that was delete before the nightly backup, contact PCS for a restore from tape.
  • List your quota usage with this command from any Linux system: fs listquota ~
  • Reset your AFS password with the command kpasswd from any Linux system.

Linux Systems

These systems are named after 60's rock stars: (2nd floor of Bldg. 407) (Grad. Trailer)

These Linux system accept SSH connections from the Physics network, with X11 forwarding enabled. If you have a local X-server running, you can SSH into these hosts, and run GUI applications which will display on your own system.

Since users connect to these hosts remotely, please DO NOT shutdown, reboot or power off these computers.

Most end-user applications have been installed from the RHEL4 distribution, with icons setup in the Gnome Application pull-down menu. Standard compilers such as gcc and f77 are installed, along with most text editors and document preparation packages such as LaTeX. All applications should be in your command-line $PATH as well. Licensed applications installed include Maple, Mathematica, and Supermongo.

If there is any software you would like installed, please contact PCS.

Windows Systems

There are two Windows systems in Broida 5207: (Newer system running XP) (Older system running 2000)

To log into these computers, hit ctrl-alt-delete, and authenticate against the INST domain.

The INST domain uses roaming profiles. Your desktop icons, favorites, and other application settings should transfer from one INST domain client to another. It is best to keep your profile small, so please do not store large amounts of data on your desktop. This will make your logins and logouts longer.

All data should be stored in your AFS home directory, mounted as the M:\ drive. I suggest creating a shortcut to your AFS directory, and placing it on the Desktop so that you don't have to traverse M:\ all time.

Software installed on these Windows computers include Microsoft Office, Mathematica, Acrobat Professional, Adobe Photoshop, and misc. scanning software.

To use the scanner, import from the TWAIN device from any graphical editing software.

If there is any software you would like installed, please contact PCS.

Mac Mini Systems

There are two dual-boot Mac Minis in Broida 5207:

Both Windows and OS X authenticate against the INST domain.

Software installed on the OS X side include Microsoft Office, Mathematica, Acrobat Professional, Firefox, Fink, and DarwinPorts (Both Fink and DarwinPorts binaries should automatically be in your $PATH).

To make OS X have more of a unix feel, start the Apple X-server ( during login, and configure your $DISPLAY variable to make X11 aware:

To have an X-server ( start when you login:

    1.) Goto System Preferences > Accounts
    2.) Choose your account from the left side of the new window.
    3.) Click on the Login Items bar.
    4.) Click the "+" icon towards the bottom left.
    5.) Choose the X11 app from Application > Utilities > X11 and click Add.
    6.) Click the Hide checkbox next to the X11 entry.

To have be aware of the X-server, add the following to your ~/.bash_profile file (create the file if it doesn't exist):

    export DISPLAY=:0.0
    export PATH="$PATH:/usr/X11R6/bin"

Booting Between OS X and WinXP

    1.) Reboot the computer.
    2.) When you here the chime, hold down the Alt/Option key until presented with which OS to boot.

Any important data on this computer should be copied to your AFS home directory. All data stored on the local hard drives, such as /Users, is only occasionally backed up to tape (if ever).

Users must manually authenticate for AFS access in OS X.

    1.) Open a terminal window: Applications > Utilities > Terminal
    2.) From the command line, run:
      klog [username] ; killall Finder.

    3.) When prompted, enter your AFS password. The finder should restart, and you should be able to navigate the AFS icon on the desktop.


There are two Dell Laser Printers in Broida 5207: (b/w - duplex) (color - single-sided)

All systems in Broida 5207 have print queues setup to the two printers.

Skynyrd prints duplex by default. If you would like to print single-sided from a Linux computer, use the queue skynyrd-single (i.e. lpr -Pskynyrd-single). For Windows and OS X, look through your printing preferences before submitting the print job.

The toner in gratefuldead is rather expensive, so please only use this printer when you need to print in color.

Both printers are postscript printers.

PCS does not directly administer these printers. If they are out of paper or toner, e-mail, or stop by the Main Office on the 3rd floor.

How to Change Your Password

Centralized authentication is still in the works. Until then, we are using multiple password databases for different services on the network.

E-mail and Web Server:


AFS server:

    Your AFS password is also your primary password for, and other Linux computers in Broida 5207. Once logged into one of these systems, use the command kpasswd.

INST domain:

    This password is for logging into the OS X and Windows computers in Broida 5207. Even though this is a separate password database, you INST password should be the same as your AFS password. Change your INST password by hitting ctrl-alt-delete when logged into a Windows computer, and click the "change password" button.

All methods of changing your password require you to know your existing password. If you have forgotten this password, contact PCS and we'll reset it for you.

Connecting Your Own Computer to the Network

All personal computers and laptops connecting to the Physics Network must have the latest security patches installed, have an up to date antivirus software installed (we can provide this for you), and a local firewall enabled.

All devices connected to the network are billed $15.00 per month. Sponsored graduate students should consult their advisor. Unsponsored graduate students should consul the Graduate Advisor. If the connection is allowed, they will provide you a two-digit recharge account code.

Using the two-digit recharge account, fill out this online form to request an IP address. Please fill out the forms completely. Let us know in the comments field if you need antivirus software.

Once the form has been submitted, we can either put the wall port specified on the guest network, or you can come to our office in Broida 5223 for a guest network connection. Being on the guest network provides the additional security of being behind our firewall. This is a suitable network environment to obtain the latest security patches, download antivirus updates, and close another other security holes.

Once you are patched, turn off the local firewall, and contact PCS. We'll scan your laptop for any further security vulnerabilities. If everything looks ok, we will register your computer on the Physics network, and supply you with a public IP address.

Note that your computer should ALWAYS be configured for DHCP when connecting to the Physics or guest network.

Broadband Service in Santa Barbara

Cox is the primary ISP for cable internet. In addition there are several DSL providers in town.

Please read our Info for Cable Modem Users page for necessary equipment. We strongly suggest purchasing a personal firewall/router box before connecting to the UCSB network from your home broadband connection.

Super Computing Facilities

The Physics Department does not have any Super Computing Facilities of its own. UCSB's Office of Information Technology provides information for those who are interested.

Security Concerns

The Department has experienced several computer thefts over the past few years. Please keep doors locked and be alert. Personal computers and laptops should be physically locked down (kits are available in the store room and bookstore). A telephone is provided for on-campus calls and can be used to phone Campus Escort Service and Campus Police, x2000.

Computing Assistance

There are several ways to reach PCS if you need computing assistance:

  • Call us at x8366
  • Send a message to
  • Visit us in our office, Broida 5223
    • We are available during normal business hours (Hours: Mon-Fri, 8am - 5pm) for problem resolution and consulting.
    • User guides and manuals are available for checkout in our office.
  • Check our online documentation:
  • You may find that the best resource for assisting you with a program is your fellow graduate students, who use it on a daily basis. Frequently they are more familiar with the specifics than are we.

Suggested Downloads

SecureCRT - A SSH client - Contact PCS for license information.

WinSCP - A free SCP/SFTP client. Use this to replace your FTP client to transfer files securely.

Symantec Antivirus - The Physics Department has purchased enough licenses to install Antivirus software on your personal computer. Contact PCS for a copy.

When You Leave UCSB

Please fill out the Computer Separation Form before leaving UCSB Physics. It will give us instructions on what to do with your computer files, email, and webpages. If you leave the department without informing PCS, we will remove all of your computer accounts and files.

Also see the leaving UCSB link.

Other Useful Links