CWU Geology Computing System

New User Information

System administrator
Craig Scrivner
phone x1446
office Hebeler 108 (side room in SW corner)

The Geology Computing System

A quick summary of the Geology computing system describes the basics for new users who have just received accounts on the system.


The Geology computer system has Unix, Mac and PC computers. Most Unix computers are in Hebeler 108. Macs and PCs are in various faculty and student offices, labs and classrooms in Lind and Hebeler. Macs and PCs that are intended for group use usually have a general-purpose account with username 'student' and password 'geology' and are often configured to log directly into that account when booted up.

The Unix computers are configured as multi-user systems. You have an account set up on them that allows you to log into (almost) any of them and see the same home directory and other resources regardless of the machine at which you are seated.

The department also has email, web and ftp servers. All users have an email account. Space on the web and ftp servers can be set up for you if you need them to report research results or work with colleagues on or off campus.

Email Accounts

You have a Geology department email address based on your Unix account username. The email address is of the form So if you Unix account username were 'smith' you would receive email addressed to

Email can be accessed through a webmail interface at

Your browser will ask you to accept an SSL certificate -- do so. At the login screen use your Unix account username (i.e., smith) for the Name: field. The password is the email password given to you at the orientation meeting.

You can also access your mail through most IMAP mail clients, such as Outlook 2003, Mozilla Thunderbird, Eudora, and Apple's Mac Mail. Details of setup for Thunderbird are given at the following link. If you need help setting that up ask Craig.

IMAP mail servers, unlike POP servers, are designed for you to leave your email on the server rather than download it to one particular PC. This means you can easily connect to your account with multiple email clients and not have email strewn all over the place. In particular you can use the webmail interface when traveling and a stand-alone mail client like Thunderbird when working at your own computer. Also you can organize your mail on the server into subfolders so that your inbox doesn't overflow. The mail stored on the Geology email server is backed up daily for up to 30 days.

You can change your email password via the webmail interface. Look under the options link after you have logged in. Please choose a strong password (the password change page will suggest some random possibilities for you). Please note that your email password must be different from your Unix account password and the password changing utility will enforce that when you attempt to change your password.

Login Accounts

You have been given accounts on the Geology Unix system. This lets you log onto the Unix computers and also defines a Geology email address of the form You have a home directory on the Unix system associated with your account. It is shared across the network -- it doesn't matter which Unix computer you log onto. This directory is backed up daily.

Even if you don't log into the Unix computers for computation you may find the account useful for storing files. We have software running on the Unix system to enable convenient access to your home directory from Macs and PCs (often referred to as Samba access).

You have received a piece of paper with some account info on it -- in particular your Geology Unix account password. Don't give out your Unix password to others. Anyone who should be able to get on the system has their own account and should log themselves on.

You can, and should, change your password to something of your own choosing. The program to change the password is passwd. Changing the password on any of the Unix computers will change it for all the Unix computers.

Choose a reasonably tough password -- a mix of upper and lower case, some punctuation or other special characters, 8 characters in length. The initial password I have given you is an example of what I mean. We have a program installed on the Unix computers that can suggest good passwords:

/opt/apg/bin/apg -x 8

This program has an algorithm that suggests secure passwords that are still reminiscent of words (and so easier to remember). Please take password security seriously when using the computers. We have been hacked in the past and would like to avoid it in the future. It was unpleasant and disrupted computer use.

You can log into the Unix system using SSH for a command line session. Telnet is disabled on the Unix computers for security reasons. There are free SSH clients for Macs and PCs available. When logging in from off- campus you will find that not all computers will accept SSH connections. Contact me if you need this kind of access and I can let you know which machines are accessible.

Tim Melbourne has a Unix introductory lab that you might want to look through to learn some Unix if you have not used it in the past.

We have various software packages available:

  • Matlab (Unix and some Macs and PCs)
  • ArcInfo (some PCs)
  • Photoshop and Illustrator (some Macs and PCs)
  • MS Office (Macs and PCs, versions vary somewhat)
  • LibreOffice (aka, OpenOffice) (Unix, Windows, Mac)

If you have questions ask Craig, faculty, and other students. It is the quickest way to learn what is available and how to use it.


There are public printers in the Geology mail room (Lind 109), in the grad student area on the 3rd floor of Lind, in the grad student office in Hebeler 122 and in Hebeler 108. These include a combination of black and white laserjets, color inkjets and a large-format plotter. Please do not print in color unless you need to for your research or a class.

The plotter in Hebeler 108 for plotting maps, research images and conference posters. This plotter has a signup sheet you need to fill in to indicate what budget should be charged for paper and ink costs. When filling this in you need to include any drafts or failed prints in addition to the final plot.

There are a few other printers in faculty offices but you should always check with the faculty member before printing to them.

We usually have replacement ink cartridges and paper for these printers available. If you do replace cartridges or plotter paper rolls please inform Craig Scrivner or Moriah Kauer so new replacements can be ordered. Also the laserjet cartridges are recycled so put those back in box and drop them off in the Lind 109 mailroom (NE corner).

The Campus Computing System

The campus computing system has various PC labs on campus. You have (or will get) a student account. You also will (or at least can) get a campus email of the form CTS manages these campus accounts completely distinctly from the Geology computers. This does mean that campus and geology email addresses are quite separate. We can set up forwarding of email in either direction, depending on whether you prefer to have all mail end up in your geology mailbox, your campus mailbox or some other email mailbox (such as Yahoo, Netscape or others).