|Advice and a request: use otter like a jump box|
To give yourself and others the best working conditions, when you ssh to our servers to do your lab work, please just use otter as a stepping stone to another of the servers and do your work there.
We have machines pup1 - pup17, cub1 - cub16, and kit1 - kit4 to choose from, e.g. once you're on otter run "ssh pup13" to jump to pup13.
You still have access to the same set of programs and files (including everything in your CS account), but your processes are actually allowed to use more memory and cpu time on those machines, and the machines are also likely to be faster and be more responsive since there are fewer people on any one machine.
Getting started/connected for CS students @VIU
X servers and X forwarding
Merlin's tutorial on ssh tunnelling (markdown file)
Tutorials and resources
General linux tutorials
I'm always looking for good introductory linux tutorials, let me know if
you find these helpful (or find others that are better!)
Vim quick ref (pdf) (courtesy of Jonathan Funk)
vim guide (my old vim notes)
Creating your own videos (for projects etc)
Sarah Carruthers has provided the following collection of video making resouces (e.g. for creating and posting project demos to viutube).
Student account information
For students new to CSCI at VIU, you will obtain your linux login id and account information
from one of your CSCI professors. If you are taking multiple CSCI courses in the current
term, the instructor in the lowest numbered course will have your information
(e.g. if you are taking CSCI 112 and 160 this term then the 112 instructor will have your information).
On VIULearn, your instructor will post an assignment named something like "CSCI Credentials", which will simply ask you for your name and student number. When the instructor "marks" the assignment, they will return your account information as the feedback.
This assignment can also be submitted by returning students, but the only account information the instructor will be able to supply is your linux loginid.
|Student password resets |
Important information about how to initiate communications that involve privileged information with the CSCI Technician. This includes: password resets, account problems, unable to connect to server. NOTE: if your instructor has not yet given you your csci login and password DO NOT USE THIS PROCESS TO GET IT. Please wait until it is handed out to you by your instructor. The following is only to be used if there is a problem AFTER YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN YOUR CREDENTIALS. Suppose something goes wrong, and you need to ask Merlin to reset your password or fix your csci account, what should you do??!! Here's the plan for handling these kinds of requests, so that we can: 1) trust who it is coming from 2) send information in a secure manner HOW TO INITIATE SENSITIVE REQUESTS WITH TECHNICIAN: All sensitive account requests (password resets, unable to connect, account troubles) must go through VIU Learn, as follows: 1. Log into VIU Learn and navigate to one of your courses. 2. Select Communication -> Classlist 3. Locate Merlin Hansen (Instructor) in the list. 4. Click the down arrow beside Merlin's name and select Send Email. 5. Enter an appropriate subject (example: Please reset my CSCI password). 6. Enter an appropriate message in the Body and include your: 1. Name and student number. 2. CSCI Linux username (if known). 3. What CSCI course(s) you are enrolled in. 4. A detailed description of the issue you are having. 7. Note: Do not provide your old password or what you recall as your password. A good SysAdmin will never need or ask for your password. 8. Click Send 9. Wait for a reply from your Friendly Neighbourhood SysAdmin. Upon receiving a request such as above the CSCI Technician will 1. Verify the information provided by the student including confirming identity and enrolment status. 2. For a password reset request: 1. Generate a new one-time-password. 2. Generate a one-time-viewable message containing the new password, the student's username, or both (as the situation requires). 3. Send a reply to the student via VIU Learn containing a custom URL pointing to the one-time-viewable message, and/or any relevant information or queries. If you have any questions or concerns about this, please forward them to the department chair (email@example.com) or technician (firstname.lastname@example.org) for clarification.
Transferring files between your laptop/pc and the CSCI servers
On linux open a terminal window, on a mac go to Applications->Utilities->Terminal, on windows 10 run the Ubuntu app.
You can then
use the scp program to transfer file as follows (you will
be prompted to enter your csci password):
to transfer files from the your laptop/pc to the csci server
scp thefilename email@example.com:thefilename
to transfer files from the csci server to your laptop/pc
scp firstname.lastname@example.org:thefilename thefilename
Note that you can also specify a path to where the file is/should go on either machine
Alternatively, check out WinSCP .
Auto-formatting C/C++ program layouts
OK, after a little playing with the linux 'indent' command,
I've got a set of options that will take poorly-formatted C++ programs
and produce formatting very close to the CSCI 160 standards.
It isn't perfect, but it's pretty good.
First, copy the following file to your home directory:
The changes will be usable the next time you login.
(You only need to do the copy/save this once.)
Subsequently, whenever you want to auto-reformat your C++ code, use the following command:
indent oldfilename.cpp -o newfilename.cpp
(e.g. indent lab5a.cpp -o lab5b.cpp
If you then wanted to rename the auto-formatted lab5b.cpp to lab5.cpp (for example),
you can then use the move command syntax: mv oldname newname, e.g.
mv lab5b.cpp lab5.cpp
Accessing VIU Windows lab machines from home
Students can now use the Remote Computer Access Dashboard portal to connect
to VIU's Windows lab machines from home.
The portal is here: remoteaccess.labstats.com/Vancouver-Island-University
And instructions are here: technology.viu.ca/student-online-software
Accessing CSCI machines from home
If you wish to connect to our servers from home
you can use virtually any secure shell (ssh) utility. ssh is
already installed on most linux and mac machines.
From a linux machine simply open a terminal window and use the same ssh command shown above.
For use from a phone or tablet, there are often apps that can be used similarly (e.g. ConnectBot for android) - Searching for 'ssh' apps is probably the best starting point.
For those running Windows 10, holding down the Windows key and hitting X will bring up a menu from which you can select PowerShell. Within the resulting PowerShell window you can enter the same ssh command as is listed above for linux/mac.
For those on older Windows machines, another commonly used program is PuTTY, which is freely available for download.
Once connected, you will have your command window to work in, very much like the terminal windows we open in the labs.
the gedit editor won't work
when connecting this way. There are a number of other editors
that can run inside your open terminal window - emacs, nano, and
vim to name a few. vim and emacs both have
a bit of a learning curve to them (but are ultimately worth
might be the easiest to get started with. Thus to edit a file
you would type nano filename instead of gedit filename
nano uses the control key to issue basic commands, e.g. control-X to exit, control-G for help, control-O to save (writeout), etc. A short menu of command options can be seen at the bottom of the window while you're working in nano.
Alternatively, see Humayun's guide to installing X2Go, which will allow you to use tools like VSCode and GEdit on our servers but using your home machine.
Accessing CSCI machines from smartphones
Connecting from a smartphone is much like the access from home section above, it's just a matter of getting the correct app installed first. There are a variety of apps out there, including ConnectBot for android, ssh for iphone, and BBSSH for blackberry.
Access to CSCI labs
Access to the CSCI labs is now controlled by your VIU student id card, and should
be automatically updated periodically during the semester based on your course
registrations, assuming you've picked up your student id card.
Using email on the CSCI servers
You can access email from a terminal window on the machines in labs 102 or 115 as
Accessing Discovery U-drives from CSCI machines
Please find appended instructions on accessing your DISCOVERY U:
drive from the Computer Science Linux lab in 315-102.
This document describes how a Computer Science student can access their DISCOVERY U: drive from an Xterminal in 315-102. The same basic procedure probably works in 315-115, but this is untested.
1. Login to a Linux system in 315-102 or 315-115.
2. From the main menu select: Places->Connect to Server...
3. Select Service Type: Windows share
4. Set Server: dolphin.discovery.mala.bc.ca
5. Set Share: users$
6. The folder name consists of three components based on your student number - the second last digit, the last digit and the student number itself, separated by slashes. For example, if your student number is 123456789, set Folder: 8/9/123456789
7. Click Add bookmark
8. Set Bookmark name: UDrive
9. Click Connect - you should get a file browser window with the contents of your DISCOVERY U: drive.
1. To copy files or folders from one system to the other, the only method that appears to work consistenly is Copy/Paste: right click on the item you wish to copy and select Copy, then right click where you wish to move the file and select Paste. You can bring up a file browser with your home directory, from the main menu select Places->Home Folder.
2. Some files, such as (some) PDF files, can be opened directly from the U: drive, others probably need to be copied.
3. On subsequent logins, if you create a file browser (Places->Home Folder) you should be able to click on UDrive in the lower left pane to access your DISCOVERY U: Drive.
Trouble-shooting git submission issues
Getting unexpected messages when trying to submit your lab/assignment in git?
Here are a few common messages/solutions:
Disk quotas for student accounts
If you're having trouble saving files on your linux account (error messages
when you try to save) it is entirely possible your account is over its
disk quota (typically 1GB for a student account).
You can check your quota and current usage using quota -sp
If you're over the limit you'll need to hunt around for any large files causing the issue.
A useful pair of commands for finding large files or directories is
du -k | sort -n | tail -20
You can use the rm filename command to get rid of an offending file, or drag it to the Trash icon and empty the trash (the space isn't freed until you actually empty the trash).
Problems often come about due to web browsers storing a large amount of data in the cache - you can dig around the preferences for your chosen browser to find the right option to limit that (if desired) or find and remove their cached files (e.g. for chromimum look in ~/.cache/chromium, for firefox look in ~/.cache/mozilla)
If problems arise from having too many files (a less frequent problem, but students
can sometimes exceed their limit), you can find directories containing many files using
find . -printf '%h\n' | sort | uniq -c | sort -k 1 -n | tail -20
Running Debian in a virtual machine on your laptop
Want to run debian linux on your own laptop, but without changing your laptop OS?
One option is to create a virtual machine on your laptop, and install/run debian linux "inside" that. One widely-used (free) tool for installing/running virtual machines is VirtualBox. Installing VirtualBox is relatively painless, and you can then install/run other operating systems within virtual environments.
A guide to installing Debian through VirutalBox is available here: (BrianLinkLetter)
Simulating the lab's X-server on your home machine
Want to use the csci server's graphical elements but have the display
show up on your home machine?
Two free solutions are to install either
You can then start an xserver in whichever you installed, open an xterm window through it,
then run this command to connect to our server:
ssh -Y -l yourusername csci.viu.ca
(that's an uppercase letter Y and a lowercase letter L)
At that point you can start up the tools you would usually use in the lab (gedit, wish, etc) and the display will show up properly (though perhaps slowly) on your home machine.
VS Code 1.49: bug causing ssh connection failure
There is a bug in VS Code 1.49 (August release and latest) which causes ssh
connections to fail. Symptoms include:
What happens if the above does not work....
For those of you interested...
The latest version of VS Code has a problem with locking on NFS mounted file
systems (which is what /student uses). Setting the option to true tells VS Code
to use an alternate method of locking by storing a unique file in /tmp (thus
avoiding the NFS issue).
The bug has been reported to the VS Code folk.
The bug does not seem to exist in previous versions of VS Code.
firefox -pFirefox will generate a popup giving us a choice between existing profiles or the opportunity to create a new one.
[Security] EAP-Method=PEAP EAP-Identityemail@example.com EAP-PEAP-Phase2-Method=MSCHAPV2 EAP-PEAP-Phase2-Identityfirstname.lastname@example.org EAP-PEAP-Phase2-Password=yourpasswordpasswordhere [Setting] Autoconnect=true
$ iwctl [iwd]# station *device* connect viu-secureIf all goes well you should be connected. For more information on using iwctl see the Arch Linux wiki wiki.archlinux.org/title/Iwd
CSCI GitLab server [BETA] available CSCI now has its own GitLab server available for CSCI faculty and students. You will need to request access to the server by sending a message to the CSCI Technician via D2L. Once approved you will be able to log into the CSCI GitLab server using your VIU computer account credentials. NOTE: not your CSCI credentials, but your student number and VIU password. Server information: - By default each student can have up to 10 repositories. - The server is accessible from both the CSCI network and the Internet. - The server URL is gitlab.csci.viu.ca Note: I consider this service to be in Beta. What this means is that although I will do my best to ensure the server is stable and available 24/7, it is not guaranteed at this stage. Also, currently the server is not backed up offline. This means that there is a very small possibility that your repos may be lost at some point. However, so long as you have a local clone this is not really a concern. I do not foresee a situation where repos will be lost but you have been warned. Future plans: The Beta will last then next few months depending on the adoption and usage of the server. As time progresses I will fine tune and tweak the server until it can be considered production ready. NOTES: - This GitLab server does not in any way replace the Git Assignment Submission system used in some CSCI courses. - Yes you can use this GitLab server to move code between your CSCI account and your home computer. If you have questions, please fire away. Please report any issues, no matter how small, to me so that I can investigate them.
Another handy-dandy guide from our resident wizard, thanks Merlin!
If you are like me you love Markdown for use in documentation, all over the place. As great as Markdown is, viewing it in a browser as Markdown leaves something to be desired and converting it to HTML is a bit of a pain to maintain.
If you use Google Chrome or Firefox then there is a nice solution... a Firefox and Chrome extension that allows you to view Markdown files as either Markdown or as HTML:
Of course it is an open source project, and is hosted at https://github.com/simov/markdown-viewer
I've been running this extension for a couple of years now and have found it easy and useful (especially since I keep handing Dave Markdown files to put up on his Tech Notes page and write all of the CSCI documentation in Markdown). If you are interested, read on...
When you install the extension you will want to configure it to give it access to the websites where you want to view Markdown as HTML. By default it does not have permissions to access any websites, which is good. To give it access to pages hosted on csci.viu.ca when viewing them:
- click on the extensions icon in Chrome (the puzzle piece shaped icon)
- click on "markdown viewer" to pop up the options page
- click on "Advanced options", which will open a new tab showing the "Allowed Origins" configuration page for the extension
- click on the drop-down and select "*://" instead of "https://"
- enter "csci.viu.ca" (where it says raw.githubusercontent.com), and click "Add"
- the new entry will show up in the list lower in the page
Note: You will also see an entry in the list for "file://" which allows any locally stored Markdown file you view in the browser to be displayed as HTML via the extension.
Now to view a Markdown page as html browse to a Markdown page such as: http://csci.viu.ca/~wesselsd/guides/Tutorial-sshClient.md, click on the puzzle piece and select "markdown viewer" again to bring up the options. Then click on the "HTML/MARKDOWN" toggle button two switch viewing the page in the two modes.
Hope you find this useful.