There are a couple of pieces of software that we recommend you have in order to make connecting to your computer (laptop or workstation) to your accounts at RCF and Nevis.

X11 Server

The X11 system (and not Windows) is what is used in unix to draw graphics on your screen. Therefore, you'll need an X11 server running on your windows machine.

Windows Users

We recommend cygwin for windows users. It's free and very stable. Cygwin is actually an entire system that provides a unix-like interface on windows, although for now the most important program is the X server. You can download the setup app from, and run it. It's easy to use, especially since you can choose all the defaults and get everything you need.

To start the X server, go to Programs and select "Cygwin Bash Shell". This will give you a prompt, at which you can type


which will start the X server and pop open the an X program: rvt. Ignore both the cygwin and rvt windows for now (minimize them - you won't use them, but you need them to exist), and you can start using Putty terminals to connect and start remote X programs.

Mac Users

Mac OS X comes with a native X11 server, although it is not installed by default. You'll need to install it from your installation CD.

Linux Users

X11 is at the heart of graphics on linux systems, so they always come with it installed and running.

Connecting to remote sites

Windows Users

For windows users, we recommend Putty. Cygwin comes with ssh and can certainly be used, but the terminal interface in cygwin is a little clunky. The Putty authors have done an excellent job of creating an easy to use, reliable SSH client. Download the version from the putty website (don't bother with the one that Columbia offers - it's outdated).

Mac and Linux Users

For mac and linux users, you will need ssh. A copy is typically already installed with the system.

-- DavidWinter - 15 Jun 2008

Topic revision: r1 - 2008-06-15 - DavidWinter
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