CMPSC 311, General Instructions

Logging In -- Remotely, to 218 IST or to the CSE Dept. shared servers

You should have previously logged in locally to one of the systems in 218 IST (Linux lab) or 220 IST (Windows lab), so that your password is set properly.

We'll use the same convention for user name and workstation or server name as in the local login instructions for 218 IST.  In particular, labsystem is just a placeholder for an actual workstation or server name, and username is just a placeholder for an actual user name.

Two servers are available for remote access, in addition to the workstations in 218 IST:
See also, the CSE computing FAQ  (login required) for info on various topics.

Wireless access from within the IST building is implemented by the university's ITS Wireless SecureNet.

For instructions on access to the PSU Linux cluster, click here.  A walkthrough is here (and recommended, no matter which system you will connect to).

Cisco VPN Client

If you are at a PSU computer, or your own system on the PSU network, and planning to use SSH, then you can skip this step.

You need to establish a connection to the CSE systems via Cisco's Virtual Private Network software.  This is the same VPN software that Penn State uses, but you need one extra piece of configuration data.

Here is the CSE department's policy statement, effective May 2008.

All methods of remote access must be used through the Computer Science and Engineering VPN Service.  One exception to the policy is with the SSH protocol.  SSH will be permitted from any Penn State University network connection, including PSU wireless.  However, inbound SSH connections originating from outside of PSU's network will need to be used through the CSE VPN service.

We realize there may be situations where SSH access cannot be accommodated with the VPN Service.  Exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will require Department Head approval.

For more information, including VPN Client downloads, documentation, and howto guides, go to .  Your CSE userid and password are required for downloads.
Important!  If you establish a connection on your laptop, and then the laptop goes into sleep mode, the VPN connection will probably be lost.  However, your SSH session will probably not be lost, and you will still be logged in.  Reestablish your VPN connection, and then ... <we really should add some more instructions here, so just be warned and don't do it>.

Command-line access via SSH, from Solaris, Linux or Mac OS X

The Solaris version of SSH comes from, and the Linux and Mac versions of SSH come from, where you can find much more information.

Open a terminal window in the usual way.

Run the command
which ssh scp
If you get a response like
then you have SSH installed.

To login to remotely, run the command
ssh -l username
where the user name is for, not for your current system.  If you need a port number, it would be 22, but generally the defaults are OK.  You will be asked for your password, and then your command shell starts.  When you are finished, type the command logout and close the terminal window.
To copy a file xyz from your current system to your cmpsc311/abc directory on the CSE systems, run the command
scp xyz
You will prompted for a password.

To copy a directory pqr and all its files and subdirectories, as before,
scp -r pqr
You will be prompted for a password, as before.

To copy in the other direction (remote to local), just name the remote file first and the local file second.

Command-line access via SSH, from Windows

If this is your own Windows system, you need to pick up the SSH Secure Shell Client.
If you are using a PSU ITS lab system, the SSH Client should already be installed.

If there is no Desktop shortcut to the SSH Client, you can make one by going to the executable file, which is usually
C:\Program Files\SSH Communications Security\SSH Secure Shell\SshClient.exe

When you start the SSH Client, enter the host name as, and enter your user name on that system.  Don't forget that you might need to establish a VPN connection before this.  When the SSH connection is established, your password is requested, and then the Terminal Window can be used as if you had opened a terminal window at the remote machine's console.  You are logged in and ready to go.  When you are finished, type the command logout and close the Terminal Window.
You can copy files and directories/folders with the File Transfer Window and drag-and-drop.

Check the file permissions on the Unix side after transferring files from Windows.  Generally, too many permissions are set (more about this shortly).

You should also take a look at "Your Guide to Information Technology @ Penn State", especially the Unix Resources section.

Notes on the SSH Secure Shell Client for Windows

We assume you are using Windows (Local), and have connected to Linux or Solaris on the CSE Dept. systems (Remote).

Terminal Window
File Transfer Window

Notes on the Putty program for Windows, in 220 IST

For various technical reasons that we won't try to explain here, the Windows systems in 220 IST run Putty instead of the SSH Client described above.  It should be on your desktop.

Putty allows connections using the older methods Telnet and Rlogin.  Don't use these.  Use SSH instead.

Drag-and-drop file transfer is not possible with Putty, but since you are on the CSE network it isn't really necessary.  Click on Computer and then Network Location to get access to your Unix home directory, under an entry that looks like "username (\\CASA) (P:)".

More stuff

There's actually another way to access the lab systems.  After connecting to the Cisco VPN, if you want to connect to one of the machines in 218 IST, use the pseudo-address .
This pseudo-address will connect you to a (more-or-less) random workstation in 218 IST.  We didn't mention it earlier, because it doesn't always work smoothly.  An entry for the pseudo-address is placed in your .ssh/known_hosts file, as if it was a real address, but the remote host identification changes on the next try, which ssh doesn't like.  You may need to edit the known_hosts file to clear the problem; just remove the line starting with , and try again.

Last revised, 5 Jan. 2013