Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ01: How do I get help if my question is not in this list?
Please do not include any personal information or images when emailing OPS like UMB ID number
Call ahead of time to make sure someone will be there
FAQ02: How do I get a UNIX account for my course?
Run the Apply Procedure to get a UNIX account or add access to course directories and resources. The Apply Procedure is what you use to request your UNIX account, give your user name and password, and specify what course you are enrolled in. You should go through the Apply Procedure every time you take a new CS course (unless the CS professor is not using the course software).
After you've checked in with an operator, you should receive your account and/or access to resources in a day or upon request to operator (time permitting).
Test if a new account exists by trying to login.
Do so by starting an ssh session to
FAQ03: How do I get a Windows account in the lab?
Operators make Windows account for all users that have a UNIX account using the same username. During the first logon session, students will have to change their account's password to a good one of their own. FAQ09.
FAQ04: How do I check my disk usage?
You can check your disk usage with the
To see the size of files in the current directory use the following command
To remove any directory that too are big and are just taking up space like the
This will delete the entire directory and its content, please verify that there is nothing important before executing.
FAQ05: How do I avoid trouble from disk quotas?
Disk space is a perpetual problem. Nice users can run out of space because others use way too much disk. Therefore we impose disk quotas on student homes and mailboxes.
Note that disk space is provided separately for CS courses and PhD research, so that stuff doesn't count against home usage.
All student homes must use less than 256 Mb of disk. All alumni homes must use less than 50 Mb of disk. The lab directors may refine their policy on quota values (up or down), at any time. Please FAQ04 on how to manage you usage.
All student mailboxes must use less than 2 Mb of disk. In the mail spool, we will impose on students a soft quota of 2 Mb, and a hard quota of 5 Mb. That means you will be warned if you go over 2 Mb, and that your mail will bounce if you go over 5 Mb. If necessary, ask an operator how to save mail under your home, or to your PC.
The Quota Mechanism
There are two limits associated with each user, per filesystem: the soft limit and the hard limit. When usage exceeds the soft limit, you see messages to reduce usage. When usage exceeds the hard limit, you cannot write to your files. The system will not allow a user to exceed his or her hard limit. However, a system administrator may set a soft limit (sometimes referred to as a quota) which can be temporarily exceeded by the user. The soft limit must be less than the hard limit.
Once the user exceeds the soft limit a timer begins.
While the timer is ticking, the user is allowed to operate above the soft limit but cannot exceed the hard limit.
Once the user goes below the soft limit, the timer gets reset.
However, if the user's usage remains above the soft limit when the timer expires, the soft limit is enforced as a hard limit.
By default, the soft limit timer is seven days.
The value of the timer is shown by the timeleft field in the
For example, let's say a user has a soft limit of 10,000 blocks and a hard limit of 12,000 blocks. If the user's block usage exceeds 10,000 blocks and the timer is also exceeded (more than seven days), the user will not be able to allocate more disk blocks on that file system until his or her usage drops below the soft limit.
Reducing Disk Space Usage
It is a big win to compress text files with
At login time, before the prompt is displayed, you may see a message from the quota command about being over and having to reduce your usage by so much.
You can see that any time by running the quota command.
If you are over your hard limit and cannot write into your home or mailbox, recall that each host has a
The NoBackup Area is a terabyte available for storing big files. Per its name, it does not get backed up.
Make your own directory by doing the following:
Change the directory permissions to be unavailable to others, since it is a
FAQ06: How do I log on to CS networks from off-site?
Use Secure Shell (ssh) to connect to
FAQ07: How do I transfer files to/from my PC?
FAQ08: How do I create my homepage?
We support homepages addressed by
FAQ09: How do I choose a good password?
A good password is at least six letters and is not in any dictionary or any list of people or place names. It combines numbers, upper and lowercase letters, and at least one non-numeric, non-alphabetic symbol:
Passwords are too easy to guess if they contain:
One way to choose an OK password is to pick a phrase or song and use the first letters of the words, with some non-letter characters. Do not confuse "dictionary" with Webster's. Cracking software comes with huge lists of words in many languages, real and imaginary, and English transliterations of languages in other alphabets: Russian, Mandarin, Swahili, Vietnamese, Arabic, Farsi, Hindi; all the words in the Koran; the CIA World Factbook's list of every place name in the world; car names, people names, botanical names, science fiction names, Klingon words; and just about anything you could think of. If it has been written down anywhere in the world, it's probably in a cracking dictionary.
Examples of bad passwords:
Any password derived from any dictionary word (or personal information), modified in any way, constitutes a potentially guessable password.
FAQ10: How do I write a CGI script?
Users may invoke CGI scripts from their home pages by following these guidelines:
FAQ11: How do I get an alumni account?
The Department Computer Science at UMass Boston supplies accounts to enrolled students, to graduates of the CS program, and to faculty and research associates.
If your account is currently shut off, we will re-enable it while you either (1) apply for an alumni account as below, or (2) copy out your files before the account is deleted.
Please advise us which you will do, by sending email to
Alumni accounts must be authenticated, and have a valid address. We invite and require you to authenticate yourself by U.S. Mail. Please mail us a photocopy of your driver's license (in lieu of National ID Card), or your passport or some official picture ID. You should obliterate your SSAN, as we don't want to know it.
Mark your photocopy with (1) your login name, (2) the date and type of degree you received from UMass Boston, and (3) your current U.S. Mail address. Mail to:
We will keep your info off-line, but may share it with the Alumni Office so they can beg you for money.
The lab directors have required authentication since Nov. 1, 2002.
Users who registered have valid login shells.
Other old friends do not, and unused accounts get deleted routinely.
Please keep your account active by logging in to
FAQ12: How do I find someone's email address?
Local users have the address
You can use the following to send an email on a CS Ubuntu host from your CS email:
FAQ13: How do I print?
Once you have a Unix and Windows account, the CS department automatically grants you 250 pages to print on the printer lj-158 we host per semester.
You can check your quota status in the computer lab by going to cups2.cs.umb.edu.
How to print to the student laser printer(s) (e.g.
Let say that you are on one of our Unix labs machines and you sent a print job and it still has not printed. You can check the printer queue by using;
If you don't want to wait and want to take your print job off the queue you can run:
For the windows side to delete your file do the following:
FAQ14: How do I use remote (IMAP/POP) mail service?
If you have an internet connection, you can retrieve your mail from our mail machine using Microsoft Outlook, Netscape, Eudora, or any other PC mail client. See your software for instructions.
Our POP server is at
Please use these aliases as they are guaranteed to work.
Our POP and IMAP Servers are not reachable directly from the internet. As a CS users you can tunnel these protocols.
Real Soon Now we will have secure mail servers.
Our SMTP server only handles outbound mail for clients on our LAN. Please do not configure your client to use it from home, unless our postmaster has told you to do so: your mail will be refused, and the log messages are annoying. If your internet connection is through an ISP, please use their SMTP server for your outbound mail. If they don't offer one, get another ISP. We might make an exception in an extreme case, but we haven't had to yet, since all ISP's so far have SMTP servers.
FAQ15: How do I fix my vt100 windows?
When you log in, you may have to tell UNIX what kind of terminal you are at, if you want things like emacs and vi to work correctly. Most folks use a PC running some ssh client such as putty. Most ssh client programs emulate (pretend to be) vt100 terminals. The vt100 was DEC's popular implementation of the ANSI terminal spec. Check your comm program or its docs to see what your choices are. If you don't know or care, then vt100 is the best choice. On the UNIX side, you can check the setting of terminal type by
That should agree with your ssh client. If not, you can tell UNIX the terminal type being emulated, so:
If you check your
On some UNIX systems, the default behavior for tabs is to print them literally.
If you see output all messy, tabs may not be agreeing with your terminal emulator.
FAQ16: How do I get a file restored from backup?
We do tape backups daily, in the dark of night.
To request a file restore, send email to
For current work, including course directories:
An operator will restore the file(s) into the directory
FAQ17: How do I keep from losing my important files?
Please know: we don't promise to keep all your homework archived for you forever. Do occasionally make your own back up to a USB.
FAQ18: Math and CS anti-spam
If you already have a procmail filter set up, then you will want to merge it with, or replace it with, the latest recommendation.
If you do not have a procmail filter yet, you may install one by doing the following actions in the shell.
You should review the procmailrc file before setting up your
cd mkdir -p .procmail mkdir -p mail echo '"|/usr/local/bin/procmail #'$USER'"' > .forward chmod go-w . .procmail .procmailrc .forward
At this point your
New mail will be sorted into one of the files
You will want to watch your
Please report bugs by email to operator(at)cs(dot)umb(dot)edu.
FAQ19: Can I use my laptop in the CS Labs?
Yes, there are some loose ethernet cables in all CS labs.
To be able to connect to the CS local network, please email
FAQ20: Is there wireless access in the UNIX lab?
Yes there is WiFi access through out the Campus. To connect you will need you UMB email and password.
FAQ 22: How to change the forwarding address of an UMB email account
Log onto webmail.umb.edu using your credentials and under settings (the wheel symbol), search for the keyword "forwarding". This will bring you to the forwarding screen to change the forwarding address.
FAQ22: Map of Science Building Third Floor CS Department