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For current students only*


The CIS use Debian as their Linux operating system. This can be accessed through any PC attached to the CIS Network PC Service, either directly, if they are dual boot machines (as in the Physics computer classroom), or via Windows.


How to logon to Linux:


The best way to access the CIS Unix from the PCs in the Physics classroom is to boot Debian directly from the start-up screen immediately after the computer has been switched on. You will get a login prompt for your CIS Username and password, just like under Windows. This runs Linux locally on your PC.


Alternatively, it is possible to log in to Mira, which is the CIS Linux server.  Mira has the advantage that it can be accessed from outside of the University.  If you would like an account on Mira, you will need to register for an account.  The "Mira access request form" can be found via SharePoint.


Once your account is active, you can use the X2Go software under Windows to connect remotely to the CIS Linux server ( You can find this under `All programs' -> `Durham Network' -> 'Connect to CIS Linux' in the `Start' menu. Alternatively, this can be accessed through Durham “AppsAnywhere” package through the internet.  Your login details are your standard CIS username and password.  Once you have logged in a new window will appear containing your Linux desktop.


If you are familiar with Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X, you will find Linux somewhat different. Linux (which comes in various versions, the CIS currently use Debian) is first and foremost a command-line based operating system, which means you type in commands at a prompt on your terminal and hit the return key to get them to run. However, by using a windowing program such as GNOME you can have both the convenience of a graphical interface like Windows and the flexibility of the command-line. Nevertheless, Linux is not Windows, and you may find yourself doing most of your work by typing in commands.


Basic Linux commands the can be run in a Terminal include:


ls                                 list files

ls -lrth                      list files but give detailed information about the files.


rm                              remove file.  e.g: rm file.dat

rmdir                       remove directory (but note the directory must be empty)

mkdir                       make directory.


cd                               change directory.  e.g.: cd Downloads

cd ..                           go back up 1 directory level.


pwd                          "present working directory" (tell me where I am)



Please remember that you are sharing Mira with the rest of the University, so please do not hog all the resources (CIS will come looking for you if you do!). Rather than tying up a terminal for hours

on end (and risking disconnection), the recommended way of running long jobs is to use the screen command – see here for a tutorial.



There are lots of Linux editors (emacs, nano, vi, pico), and if you are already familiar with one use that. Python is often bundled with an integrated editor called IDLE. This is OK, but you may be better off using a dedicated text editor instead (such as emacs, which is the most popular Linux editor). As with most other Linux commands, these can be started directly by typing in the name of the editor on the command line.



Although there may be a Jupyter notebook client installed, many users run python scripts directly, or using ipython.  To run a python script, use: 


> python


To run in a more interactive mode, you can first launch ipython (by running the command "ipython" on the command line), and then run a script with 


> %run


Compiled languages: C/C++/Fortran

Some users may wish to program in C, C++, or fortran, and compilers are available on mira.  e.g. gcc, gfortran, cpp.  These can be run from the command line.


Disk space


All CIS Linux machines share a common disk file store on which you will have a permanent allocation of space (your `file quota' - to show your quota on Linux use the command quota -v), so you will be able to access your files from any CIS machine. Also, your PC J: drive is the same as your Linux home directory, so you can see your files from a PC as well. Note that some projects can produce large files, and if you are not careful it is easy to exceed your allowed quota! Temporary

file space is available in this event, or you can request that CIS increase your quota.


Fortran has a long history of being used for the computationally intensive tasks involved in physics.


CIS has a couple of guides available that can help you get started: