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Mathematical Sciences Research Institute

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Computer Accounts

If you are a registered member with the Institute, an account has been created for you. Information on how to log into this account is given on the Computer Access & Email Account Information sheet that is a part of the registration packet.

For guests and other visitors here for short terms, such as two weeks or less, a guest account is usually available. Login information to use this account is provided in the reception area of the Institute. Please note that access to this guest account is typically in association with an on-going workshop or short program, after which time it is disabled. If you have a short-term need for computer use, please see a member of the computing staff.

Using Your Computer

When you first turn on your desktop computer, you should see a Ubuntu login window on a white background. Using the username and temporary password provided by MSRI, type the text into the appropriate fields on the login screen. We do a weekly reboot of the shared Ubuntu system every Tuesday morning and the terminals will loose sync. Generally you will see polling lines of text as the terminal tries to connect. Just shut the machine down by holding down the power button for several seconds and then power it back on. It will quickly reconnect so you can log in.

You may access a terminal by either right-clicking on your desktop and clicking on "Open a Terminal" or going to the Applications->System Tools menu, then choosing "Terminal". There are many math applications on the menu (top left corner) under the Math... subfolders. Although dropbox is not avilable as a program you are welcome to use it within a browser such as Firefox or Chrome.

Your MSRI account is also available to you when off-site via SSH [http://www.openssh.org]. Please see our SSH Help page for more information.

If you cannot find a particular program you require, please let us know and we may be able to install it for you. However, please keep our computer use policy in mind, and know that not all software is supported by MSRI.

If you have further questions about using your MSRI account, you may contact the Computing Department in the Koret Office [room 214], by e-mail at itsupport@msri.org, or by phone at (510)643-0906 [if you using a phone located in MSRI's Chern Hall, you need only dial the last 5 digits].

Changing Your Password

On the Computer Access & Email Account Information sheet, you will notice that we ask you to change your password immediately after the first login. This is so that you may select a password that is easier for you to remember and is known by you alone. Instructions for changing a password can be found on the Computer Access & Email Account Information sheet. If you don't have this, the instructions are simple. To change your password, type [in a terminal]: passwd. You will be asked for your old password and then for a new one which you will have to enter twice.

A Word about Passwords

The selection of a good password is a very important aspect to maintaining the security and integrity of the network for all who use it. Using an easy password like, 123abc, is almost the same as giving someone the keys to your home. It is too easy to decipher, hence extremely insecure.

A password should not be a word that can be found in any dictionary (English, computer, geek, or otherwise) nor should it be any word that has an obvious association with you. For instance, words like the name of a spouse, pet or child are not good candidates. Similarly, passwords should not be derived from your phone number, social security number or birthdate. Here are the typical rules that we follow at MSRI:

  • Use at least 6 characters in your password
  • Choose an alphanumeric mix, containing A-Z upper/lower case, digits 0-9 and/or punctuation
  • Never share your password*

Here are a few examples of good passwords:

                2bor!2b       saturn5?        23skidoo        4/3pir^3        E=mc^2

Of course, these are no longer good passwords here, having been used as examples!

The computing department periodically runs a password-cracking algorithm against all of the computer accounts of MSRI. When a bad password is found, the account is disabled (eg., the user is unable to log in). The user must then visit a computing staff member where he/she is required to select another password and he/she is subjected to a "brief" dissertation on the evils of poor password selection. Not really - but please take this seriously. We do.

Guest Accounts

MSRI provides a wkshpgst account for workshop and conference attendees. This account is valid only during periods of workshops and is disabled immediately thereafter. Attendees should be able to find account login information on the information desk in the lobby. If not, please see any staff member to obtain the login and password you need.

Members and guests wanting access to Windows and Linux systems during non-workshop periods will need access to the msrigst account. Please see a computer staff member for login information.

Users should be advised that guest accounts are shared by several persons. There is no way to guarantee the privacy of any information contained in such an account.

After You Leave MSRI

Although we'd love for you to stay, we know that you must return to your point of origin. Consequently, we typically like to reclaim the computing resources you have used during your stay. To facilitate this, we have included a few questions in the on-line checkout form (NOTE: You will receive an email with the URL to your checkout form) that you are asked to complete at the end of your stay.

Please take time to answer the questions pertaining to the disposal of your computer account. We offer to forward your incoming email for a period of up to 3 months after you leave. Alternatively, your account may be left open for a predetermined amount of time if you are anticipating to return at a later date or would simply appreciate access to your files until you are settled at your new location. In any case, we are glad to do what we can to help you make the transition. If, however, we do not receive a clear indication from you as to how to manage your account after your departure, it will be closed.

Please be aware that if you are expecting to access your MSRI account from any outside location, you will be required to login using SSH (example: ssh username@sshost.msri.org).

*A guest account is available for non-members and friends of members at MSRI