UNIX Systems Software

Can I change the default shell on FarmShare hosts?

To change your shell, please compose an email to research-computing-support@stanford.edu using your Stanford e-mail address and include the following text:

Why do I get a license error when starting Matlab?

Matlab is heavily-used application in the UNIX Computing environment at Stanford.  While the University's agreement with the vendor allows a large number of concurrent users it is not unusual, during times of peak usage, for all licenses to be in use.  If all licenses are in use it is not possible to start a new instance of Matlab until a currently running Matlab process is quit and i

Where can I find information on Linux computing resources at Stanford?

The FarmShare service provides Linux facilities for general and research computing to anyone with a full-service SUNet ID. The Shared Computing Environment service page provides more information, and user documentation is available at the

Can I use Linux applications with graphical interface from a remote location?

Yes. Linux applications with a graphical user-interface require X-windows or other remote display software when connecting from a remote location. Two methods are currently supported: X-windows and VNC.

Where can I find documentation for end users of UNIX and Linux?

The UNIX Documentation at Stanford page links to documentation, resources, and help for end users of the UNIX and Linux operating systems. Additional user documentation is available at the FarmShare wiki.

Can I use SSH public-key authentication to log into Stanford UNIX hosts?

Kerberos authentication is supported for single sign-on, but it is not possible to use SSH public-key authentication when connecting to Stanford hosts as a matter of policy. Public-key authentication does not integrate well with key elements of Stanford's UNIX infrastructure.

How to: Enable programs to continue to run after logout.

Any batch process can continue running after logout when started using 'nohup' command. Some applications may require additional configuration to ensure that they run non-interactively while unattached, and jobs running for longer than 24 hours must use 'keeptoken' to retain AFS credentials.

Any batch process can continue running after logout when started using the nohup command, or when running in a screen session.

What platforms does WebAuth support?

The primary target platforms for WebAuth development are Solaris and Linux, but the code should be portable to any Unix system. The modules make extensive use of Apache 2.0's APR libraries for portability. It has been successfully built on Mac OS X 10.2 (with a locally built OpenSSL, since the version that comes with 10.2 was still too old to support WebAuth).

Was there a Stanford version of Kerberos for UNIX?

Stanford used to provide a modified version of Kerberos for UNIX systems. These modifications were non-standard, aren't present in the Kerberos programs that come with current operating systems, and are mostly obsolete given the retirement of Kerberos v4.

How do I schedule Linux commands or scripts stored in AFS to run automatically?

The scheduling service allows you to run Linux commands or scripts stored in AFS at specified intervals. These commands are called 'cron jobs' and are useful for a variety of purposes such as updating a website daily, or running monthly reports on databases.


Security for Windows, Macintosh, and UNIX Computers.

There are a number of basic steps that every computer user can and should take to make their computers safer. To learn what you can do to safeguard your computer and data, see the Security for Windows, Macintosh, and Unix Computers page.

How do I find my Host ID?

Here is how to find your HostID:

MS Windows

  1. In a Command Prompt window, run ipconfig /all.
  2. Take the Physical Address of the first Ethernet adapter listed.
  3. Remove the dashes (-).

Type hostid at the command prompt.


What happened to Unix-SPIRES?

IT Services Unix-SPIRES support ended January 10, 2011.

How do I keep a very long process authenticated?

If you need to run a compute job that will take longer than 25 hours, you'll need to keep your AFS credentials (called a token) longer than normal. If your token expires, your job may not be able to read its input data set or write to its output file(s), or it may look like a runaway job and be killed.

Error: Cannot lock the .Xauthority file when attempting to connect using VNC or starting X-Windows.

The most common cause of this error message is that insufficient space exists in a user's home directory to accommodate the X-windows startup procedure or the VNC log file.

Enough space must be freed before X-Windows or VNC will run normally.