Connecting to the Linux lab machines

Unlike the Windows lab, where the only way to use the machines is to be physically present in the lab, there are a number of ways to use the machines in the linux lab.

With all of the following methods, your username and password are your UW NetID username and password, the ones you would use when logging in to MyUW.

Please note that you need to use the Husky Onnet VPN service if you are trying to connect to remotely login to a lab machine outside campus (e.g. from your home, or work.)

More info:

In the lab

The CSS Linux Lab is located in UW1-320. Access is controlled by a Husky Card reader; if your card doesn't unlock the door, please come to the CSS Suite in UW1-360 for help.

There are 15 desktop linux systems in the lab, not counting the podium machine. When you log in to a machine directly by being physically present at the machine, you are said to be “on the console”. If a particular machine is free, you will know by the red login screen asking for a password. If the screen is blank, wiggle the mouse or press a key on the keyboard to disable the screen saver. If someone else is logged into the machine, please don't just sit down and start using it. They should have locked the screen when they got up, but not everyone remembers to do that every time.

If someone has obviously abandoned a machine without logging out (if you're the first person in the lab in the morning, for example, or if you've been there for half an hour and the machine has been locked the whole time), you can forcibly log the user out by pressing control-alt-backspace.

Control-alt-backspace is not the same as control-alt-delete. Control-alt-backspace ends a login session on a graphical console 1) while control-alt-delete reboots the system. Please don't reboot the system unless it is absolutely necessary, as there may be someone else logged into that machine remotely whose work you would interrupt.
Please do not remove network cables, keyboards, mice, power cables, or any other cables or peripherals from machines in the linux lab. Do not press the power button or control-alt-delete except as a measure of last resort.

When you are done, please log out, using the “System” menu:

You can also use this menu to lock the screen if you're going to step out of the room for a few minutes.

Remote command-line

You can use SSH to connect to a command line shell on any of the linux lab machines, including the desktop systems and the systems in the rack. Connecting to a command line is like running the “Terminal” application in the Applications → Accessories menu of the Gnome graphical environment (the default environment in the lab).

To use SSH, you will need an SSH program, or “client”.

You will also need to know which machine you want to connect to. If there's a specific lab machine you need to connect to, it will be one of through There are machines numbered 16 through 22 also available, either by connecting directly to a particular one or by connecting to, which will pick one at random.


Windows systems on campus have one installed in Programs → Connectivity → UWICK → TeraTerm. On your own Windows system, you can download PuTTY SSH for free. A portable version of PuTTY which runs from and saves configuration changes to a USB drive, suitable for use on public machines, is PortaPuTTY.

Mac / Linux

On a Mac, you can use the Terminal application (found in Applications → Utilities) to get a command line. Most linux distributions also have a Terminal application. From the command line, you can connect to the linux lab using the command:


Use your own UW NetID, not netid, in that command. That will connect you to one of the machines more or less at random. If there is a specific machine you want to connect to (if you saved a file in /tmp instead of your home directory, for example), you can do that by specifying that particular machine in the command:


That would connect you to machine 04, one of the desktop systems. The podium machine is 00, the desktop systems are 01 through 15, and the rack machines are 16 through 23.

Connection Warnings

The first time you connect to a system using ssh from any given machine, you may encounter a warning such as this:

The authenticity of host ' (' can't be established.
RSA key fingerprint is 9d:03:dd:3f:19:a0:19:d3:22:6a:33:93:c4:9e:2d:b5.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)?

SSH uses public key cryptography to ensure that when you connect to a machine, your session is not hijacked by an attacker. By verifying the fingerprint your ssh client is asking about against a list of known fingerprints, you can know that your connection is going to the machine you think it is. Most people skip this step and just accept any fingerprints their ssh client asks them about. If you would like the extra security of fingerprint verification, you can check the CSS ssh fingerprints.

Graphical ssh clients such as PuTTY or TeraTerm may display a dialog about the key fingerprint. Most will ask if you want to save the key for future use. This is generally a good idea, since it means you don't have to see the message every time you connect.

Remote graphical environment

1) Graphical as opposed to text. In a text console, which you can identify by a black background with white text which takes up the entire screen, control-alt-backspace has no effect.

connecting_to_the_linux_lab.txt · Last modified: 2016/10/04 16:47 by rafaelsi