Login to the Linux Server

If you wish to work from your own computer you need to install the following at least three of the following programs (all are free of charge) :
ssh-client : download from http://downloads.its.psu.edu/, there follow the link "Connecting to Penn State" and then "File Transfer". This program is a must, without it nothing goes. But remember, it can only transmit text between your computer and the linux server. For me personally, this the only program I need if I use my computer at home.
Wireless 2.0 : download from https://www.work.psu.edu/access/dot1x/prod/. This program you need if you wish to connect your computer wirelessly while on any campus of Penn State for any purpose. Hence, this is what you need when you want to use SSH to connect to the linux server. NOTE : Wireless 2.0 will work on your computer only if a 802.11 wireless capable network card is present on your computer. Got to purchase one in this case.
vpn : download from https://www.work.psu.edu/access/vpn/ Although PennState has upgraded now to the more secure "Wireless 2.0" program many Internet Service Providers have not. Therefore, chances are high that you need this program as an alternative to "Wireless" if you wish to establish a graphic-capable connection at your home (for example) or at many other places.
VNC-view : follow this link vnc-viewer

Procedure to log in

  1. Log into the computer in the lab using your regular PennState account name and password.
  2. Start up a program called "Secure Shell Client". You will find it

    Start --> All Programs --> Internet Applications --> Communications --> SSH Secure Shell 3.2.9 --> Secure Shell Client

    After your first usage you will find a direct link to "Secure Shell Client" in your Start Menu as a welcome shortcut

    Either way, the SSH window will pop up.
  3. In the SSH window click on the button "Profiles" to cause a dialog box to appear, click "Add Profile" and fill in a nickname of your choosing reminding you of the computer you wish to go to ( linux2 for example ). Then go to Profiles ---> Edit profile and fill in the follwoing information :
    The next time you use SSH you will have available as a short cut but just clicking on "Profiles" and the nickname you have chosen, the remaining information will be provided automatically.
  4. After clicking on your "nickname" another dialog box pops up this time asking you for your password. This password is in general different from your PennState password and the necessary information will be provided to you by your instructor during the first class period.
  5. If your password got accepted all dialog boxes will vanish leaving you with the following screen. The bottom two lines in above image are of importance. The next to last line shows when you last logged in. If that information does not agree with your recollection your account may be compromised. You better get in touch with your instructor. The last line is referred to as the prompt indicating to you that the linux server is waiting for you to type in a command on your keyboard. Of course, you got to know your UNIX commands. The content of this prompt is basically controlled by the system administrator of the linux server. In our case, it reflects your account or user name and that you are logged into a machine whose hostname starts with linux2 ( as in linux2.ma.psu.edu ). The ~ (tilde) indicates that you have been placed automatically into your home directory. As you navigate your filesystem ( Unix command "cd") the tilde will be replaced by the name of the present working directory. The brackets surrounding these three items have no particular meaning. The dollar sign at the end of the last line is an indicator as to what shell you are using. A shell is the program which interprets the commands you are typing in and tells the computer what to do.
  6. This step is optional, but helpful. We want to re-size SSH's window. The present size is displayed on the bottom bar, it might look something like 56x22 (56 characters across in 22 lines). Re-size your window to 80x24 , the standard size for connecting to linux-machines. We can force now SSH to remember the layout for the future. Go to "View" menu and choose "Customize". There click on "Save layout". That's it.
  7. At this point you can already use the connection to the linux server to do your work if you are happy using only UNIX commands and the programs you intend to use produce only text-based output. Apart from providing the fastest connection it also is the most stable one.
    If this is the first time you are logged in we will ask you to change your password for future use on linux2.ma.psu.edu. The appropriate command is called passwd
  8. Establishing a VPN path : This step is only necessary if you are connecting from outside the PSU network ( like from home or wireless on campus ) AND wish to use a graphical user interface (GUI). You can take this step only if a program called "VPN client" is installed on your computer. This program is available for free at https://www.work.psu.edu/access/vpn/

    Images and instructions missing

  9. Getting the full linux screen : To do this you need a program called "VNC client". It is already installed on all computers in the MA labs. You can easily install it on your own computer and it is available for free.

    There are two steps you have to perform in sequence.

    1. From step 5 above you still have the SSH window open. Type the command vnc. You will be presented with options as to the size of the window for the linux graphical user interface. If you are in the computer labs the choice is clear (1). If you are connecting otherwise I would start with the same option but depending on the settings on your computer you might have to fiddle around to obtain a clearly readable screen. Your SSH window should be looking something like this : The important information to remember is the display number, a 1 in this example. Now leave the SSH window alone.
    2. Double-click on the VNC viewer icon on your desktop. The following window should popo up :
      Make sure that the number behind the colon behind the hostname matches that of the before mentioned display number, and correct if necessary. Then click on OK.
      As a final action you will have to provide a password to the VNC-viewer :

      and press the OK button. Note, this password pertains merely to the VNC viewer which means that if you change any other password you use within PSU network system, this one will remain the same. And, of course, vice versa. So, who sets it in the first place ? Well you do, during the first class period.
    This will now give you a screen which - similar to the example below - looks and behaves exactly like the screen you get as if you were sitting infront of the monitor of linux.ma.psu.edu.


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Zig Herzog © 2014
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Last revised: 08/23/13