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Using the network



Overview (Top of page)

The School has a wide range of computing equipment which will probably always be in a state of flux due to upgrades of hardware and software. The following information is to allow you to begin using the computing facilities within the School, however you may need to seek help on occasions. The Computing Services Group is available to provide additional computing systems support and advice when required.


In the document, we will list a number of commands which you issue to the computers. In the descriptions we include some variable parameters in italics. When you use the commands, replace the parameters with what you need.

If you find any problems with using this document, please contact the webmaster to have changes inserted. As this document must evolve with the computing system, this is important.

The School network is integrated with a single authentication system for the entire Engineering network, meaning users need only remember and maintain a single username and password to access any resource in the School.  The authentication scheme is also tied into the undergraduate CATS, enabling access to resources to in the School to be able to be granted undergraduate students without the requirement to establish and maintain separate accounts for them.

All full time staff and post graduate students in the School will have a networked workstation on their desk.   This may be a machine running either Windows XP, Windows 7 or Linux, depending on the user's need and available resources.   There are also a number of general access PCs available for use in the Norman Blockley Computer laboratory (EM211) for fourth year project students as well being available for  School staff and postgraduates  should they need to make use of them.  In addition there are a number of PCs available for fourth year project students which may end up running various operating systems.


The workstations fall into two main categories:


Windows PCs. (Top of page)

There are around Windows 250 PCs attached to the School network.  Most of these have been installed with a standard Windows XP or Windows 7 desktop including installation of Novell client software enabling access to shared resources such as files and printing, while also allowing automatic updating of software from a server.



Microsoft Office:

As part of the standard base desktop, most PCs in the School will have Microsoft Office 2010 installed.


Web Browser:

Mozilla Firefox is also installed and is the recommended web browser and email client for use in the School. You should read the "Rules and Guidelines for Internet Use" document.


E-mail Client:

Mozilla Thunderbird is the preferred e-mail client in the School. Other programs should not be used without first discussing your needs with the computer support group.



Under the Start Menu is the Avira anti-virus program. Any time you bring in a disk or storage device from outside the University or download an application over the internet, you should run this program to ensure we remain virus free.


Other Applications:

A couple of other programs which you will find under "Applications" from the "Start Menu" are the "ws_ftp" program for transferring files between different systems and "putty" which is an ssh client which provides a secure login to unix systems with with similar functionality to telnet which is insecure and being phased out.


There is also an X-Windows emulator called Xwin32 available on all School PCs which enables users to run X-windows graphical applications and have them displayed on their PC as though it were an Xterminal or Unix/Linux workstation.  Apart from providing access to applications available only on Unix/Linux systems, it also enables large jobs to be run remotely on more powerful servers which can be especially useful for PCs with limited resources.


Matlab is another program which is used by many people within the School and it is now installed on most computers in the School.



There are  a number of other software packages, some of which are installed only on certain PCs, others are available via the network.


In addition the Computer Support Group can install additional software should you require it.


Note that no software should be installed on any general access computer without prior consent of a member of the Computer Services Group. If you have legitimate access to any other School PC you may install any software for which you have the legal permission to do so, however it is normally recommended that software be installed by a member of the Computer Services Group, who should be advised of any installations of software performed by users. They may not provide support for any software which is not part of the School standard desktop, in particular where the functionality is available from the standard applications.

Note the installation of illegal software is a serious offence carrying penalties of up to $50,000 fines and 6 months jail for individuals with higher fines applying to organisations. To protect the School from such liability, anyone caught installing illegal software in the School can expect to be reported to the appropriate authorities.

Network drives:

When you login to a PC, a number of network drives are automatically mapped for you. Some of these are used by the system and should not normally need to be explicity accessed by the user, but others are there for your specific use. The list below shows the ones you should need to access.

Note that different users may have differing security permissions to see different sub-directories, and you may not see all of the drives listed here:

  • F: and J:
    • These are historical home directories. You may use them but it is preferred that you use the U: drive (see below).
  • K:
    • The K: directory is by default mapped to the network applications directory. While you should not normally need to access this explicitly, if you cannot find an application or an icon pointing to it on your PC it may be worth a look on the K: drive.
  • O:
    • This is the install directory. If you have permission to install software, you may find installation packages in this folder.
  • P:
    • This is a public drive accessible to everyone in the School. This is the ideal place to store files which will need to be accessed by other people.
  • S: and W:
    • These are the two web directory drives, S: being for the secure website (all sites starting with https://) and W: being for the non-secure website (all sites starting with http://)
  • U:
    • By default the U: drive is your personal directory. It is where your personal files should be stored if you wish to ensure they are backed up. Also, by storing your files on the network drive, they will appear in the same place no matter which computer you are working on. The U: drive is superior to F: and J: in that files are shown from your Unix home directory, providing an easy way of accessing files across different operating systems and environments.

      Currently the default network storage disk quota for new users is 50GB, but this can be increased if required. Files saved to the local drives on general access computers are liable to be deleted without notice unless prior arrangements have been made. There are some files in your personal directory which you will not have consciously created yourself but which are necessary for storing information such as roaming profiles and your mail. Be careful when cleaning up your directory that you do not accidentally delete any of these files.


Unix/Linux Systems: (Top of page)

There are a number of Solaris Servers, and Linux boxes scattered throughout the School. Data and application disks attached to various servers are cross mounted across the network using the Network Files System (NFS) protocol. This means that disks such as the one containing your home directory appear the same no matter which system you are logged into.


Unix/Linux applications:

There are many applications available on the Unix/Linux systems, but probably the two most common are Matlab and Firefox.  Matlab can be run by just entering the command "matlab" for the current version of Matlab. Firefox is started with the command "firefox" the command prompt.  For further information on setting up Firefox see the E-mail and Internet Settings page.


Another useful application which is now available on Unix/Linux systems is Open Office.  This provides functionality similar to Microsoft Office and can read and exchange word, excel and powerpoint documents.   It can be started by entering "ooffice" at the command prompt.


For those who require additional access to Microsoft Windows, we have a terminal server which will let you run a virtual Windows session in a window of your X session.  You will need to contact the members of the computer support group to get access to this facility.

When logged into a remote system during an X-Windows session, if you want to run any X (gui) applications, you need to set a display variable which tells that machine to direct all output to the machine you are using. If the computer you are physically working on is called sylvester for example, use:

setenv DISPLAY sylvester:0.0

You may also need to allow the remote permission to display on your screen by typing:

"xhost +remotemachine" in a local terminal session.


General Access Servers:

There are a number of general access servers in use in the School. While you are free to use any of them, each their specific roles and configurations is described below.

access - Provides direct access to the internet (ie can be used to ssh, sftp or ftp direct to any internet site).  As the gateway, it is should only be used for running applications which require direct access to the internet.

mawson -Ultra 250 running Solaris 9.  .

attitude- Dell Poweredge R310  running Linux

abda - Dell Opteron. Model 275 (2.2GHz) dual core processor running Red Hat Enterprise Linux WS 3.



There are many other workstations/servers scattered around the School, intended primarily for research groups of individuals who are working in a particular area. Some of these are quite powerful will run your applications faster than the main servers depending on the loads on the various machines. 

You should check with the owner or research group before using any of these machines and in particular avoid running jobs which cause significant swapping to occur on machines which other users have as their desktop system as this can have a significant detrimental effect on their ability to use the computer.



Internet Usage (Top of page)

As the School pays for all internet traffic, it is important to manage our usage wisely and avoid unnecesarry costs. Users should be aware that there is a cost to the school for everything downloaded off the internet and in particular take care when downloading large files, that they do really need them and that they are not available locally.

While the School does not generally restrict access except to offensive material such as pornography, usage is monitored to watch for any excessive usage so that corrective action can be taken if necessary.

If you need assistance in seting up your computer to use the internet, see the Internet Proxy Settings page.


Mirror Sites

Very large archive sites exist all over the world. The traffic from these sites to individual users wishing to access software constitutes a crippling burden on the network, especially on overseas links, and ties up expensive transmission resources in the process. In addition the number of people connecting to an archive machine is limited, and often you may not be able to connect to it. To overcome this, many sites have a mirror in various countries, to which users can connect and get the software they need.


When looking to download software from the net, you should first check out This archive provides a mirror of many popular software packages and as the central mirror for the Australian Academic Research Network, it should be faster and with significantly lower charges for internet traffic for the University compared to the rest of the internet.


Personal Web Pages

Staff and postgraduate students may also create their own personal pages on the School web server the whole world to see. The easiest way to get started is with a html editor like Netscape Composer, with which you can easily create web pages. Note that many html editors including Composer may corrupt existing pages, particularly more complex ones which may have been created with a different editor. If you need to edit any existing School pages, you MUST contact the computer support group before doing so to ensure you have the correct software installed.

You will need to see the Computing Services Manager if you wish to create a personal home page, as you will need to be allocated a separate directory on our web server. Note your main page should be called "index.html"

Your web page should conform to the University Web Policy, particularly bearing in mind that the Personal Home pages reside on the School server and so should not contain anything which would be of detriment to the image of the School. In particular, your pages should not contain anything obscene, immoral, illegal or anything which may be considered offensive.

In addition you need to ensure that anything you place on the web conforms to the new copyright laws, in particular for anything you place on the web site:

  1. The copyright belongs to the University of Adelaide or the individual posting the material, NB in most cases publishing a paper involves assigning copyright to the publisher. Therefore DO NOT post papers on ftp or web sites unless you have written permission from the publisher.
  2. Copyright material copied under the statutory licence has an appropriate electronic notice attached AND it is only accessible to staff and students of this University.

Please read the details of the changes to the copyright laws on the web page at



Accounts And Passwords (Top of page)

General Account Information

In order to access the School computing network, you will need a computer account. Staff members and research postgraduate students will be given an Electronic Engineering account at the start of their tenure. Undergraduate and coursework masters students will use their University account, which should provide access to all coursework material required. In some rare circumstances, undergraduate students may need additional access not available with their University account to complete their work. If this is the case, their supervisor or lecturer must contact the Computing Services Manager to discuss their needs.

Note: Once you have an computer account, you will have access to the both the School's intranet, and also the global internet. This access carries certain responsibilities with regard to the way in which it is used. It is possible to deliberately misuse the network and cause damage to other people's software and data, or to cause offence by the way in which you communicate. This not only can bring punitive action upon you personally, but will bring dishonour to the University of Adelaide, both of which are viewed with great seriousness by the University. Network access is provided for study or research-related purposes only, and all activity is monitored and logged. Any attempts to misuse the resource in any way will be followed up with the appropriate action. Each time you log in to a networked machine, you will see a message advising of the seriousness of this.

You should also note that the University is NOT an Internet Service Provider. The access you are provided with is to enable you do your work or meet your study commitments. The access you receive to some services may therefore be restricted.


Your password is your authentication to the network. You will be held responsible for any unauthorised activities by anyone using your account. You must therefore protect access to your account by others, and in order to assist with this the following guidelines are recommended:

  • Lock your workstation (Ctrl+Alt+Delete, Lock Workstation) if you need to leave your workstation unattended temporarily. For periods longer than 10 minutes, you should log out
  • NEVER let anyone else know your password
  • Do not write your password where it can be found
  • If you think your password has been compromised, change it immediately
  • Do not use real words (English or any other language) or place names in your password
  • Do not let anyone see you typing in your password. If someone else is entering their password, the courteous thing to do is to look away.
  • Use a combination of letters and numbers, and upper and lower case.
  • Change your password regularly. This will be forced on you every 6 months.

Changing Passwords

For security purposes, you will be required to change your password approximately every six weeks. An automated e-mail will normally advise you when your password is about to expire and the procedure by which you can change your password.


If for whatever reason you experience any difficulties with that method, you may be able to change your password via this backup method.

  • PCs:
    Once you are logged in, press Control+Alt+Del and select the "Change Password" option.
  • Unix:
    You can change your password under UNIX at any time with the command: passwd

When prompted "Old password:", type in the password you used to login. You will then be prompted to enter your new password twice.


Note that sometimes it can take a little while for the change to propogate to all machines on the network, and that you will need to update any stored passwords to match your new password.

Stored Passwords

Some applications requiring network access such as e-mail clients allow you to save your password so you don't need to enter it every time you run the application. As this saved password is stored (in an encrypted form) on your workstation, it is NOT automatically updated when you change your network password, so you will need to change this manually. The procedure will be different for each application, but common ones are listed below:


Mozilla Thunderbird:

  • Tools, Options, Privacy, Passwords
  • Click the 'View Saved Passwords' button. This will display a list of all hosts for which you have saved a password.
  • Select the following entries:
    • imap://username@mail or imap://
    • smtp://
  • Click 'Remove'
  • Close and restart Mozilla Thunderbird. You will be prompted to enter your new password. If you wish to have this new password saved, tick 'Let Password Manager remember this password'. This will prevent you having to enter your password every time you start Thunderbird, but will require that you repeat the process in this list every time you change your network password.

Mozilla Firefox:

  • Follow the procecure for Mozilla Thunderbird (above), but select any entries which relate to our site, such as

Windows Explorer - Mapped Network Drives:

  • Tools, Disconnect Network Drive
  • Select the drive you wish to disconnect and click 'OK'
  • Tools, Map Network Drive
  • Select a drive letter to use and enter the folder you wish to map to (these should be the same as the drive you just disconnected
  • If prompted to enter your username and password, do this, and if you want to remember the password, tick the tickbox to indicate this
  • Click OK