ISD Unix Services

ISD offers UNIX services and technical support in addition to its Novell/Windows-based services.

What is Unix?

Unix was originally written at ATT and has since been further developed and cloned by many organisations and people including the University of Berkeley in California, USA. It is available for standard PCs, supercomputers and many computers in between. It is a network-oriented operating system ideal for use as both a server and client on the Internet. Unix is widely used by research staff and students at universities around the world as it is a great a programme-development environment (with many standard compilers, debuggers, editors and other tools available for free) and is an inherently multi-user operating system (i.e., many people can login and use one machine at the same time, each running applications independently) making it ideal for research groups.

Unix comes in many "flavours" including Solaris and Linux. ISD supports only these.

Central Unix Services

ISD administers two Unix machines, Cosmos and Eric, available to staff and students for research and study.

Cosmos is an 8-processor Sun Microsystems machine available to all for running applications and for programme development. A batch system is available on Cosmos for those users who wish to run long computational jobs (e.g., over 24--48 hours); interactive running of shorter jobs is tolerated.

Cosmos may be accessed from office- and home-based machines, and from the PC clusters, by using telnet (or, better, ssh) and, graphically, by use of the X Windows System (e.g., by using Exceed or XFree86).

Eric is a 28-processor Sun Microsystems machine with 30 Gbytes of RAM. At present Eric is available only to members of research groups involved in a JREI bit which funded its purchase. However, it is expected that from late November Eric will be available to all staff and students, in particular for long-running computational jobs.

Many applications are available on Cosmos and Eric, including: Abaqus, Gaussian, Mathematica, Matlab, Patran; C/C++/Objective C and Fortran compilers (with the NAg numerical analysis libraries and the Uniras graphics libraries); and a great deal of free software too, including Perl and Emacs.

Both Cosmos and Eric run the Solaris 7 operating system.

Departmental Unix Services

Several departments run Unix machines and clusters. User should contact departmental representatives for details.


Solaris is the flavour of Unix developed by Sun Microsystems. UMIST has a site license for Solaris.


Linux is an increasingly popular flavour of Unix. It is available for free download and installation from many web sites (including It can also be purchased on CD ROM from the many distributors of Linux (including RedHat, Mandrake, SuSE and Debian). Linux is usually installed on standard PCs, but is also available for other architectures. Linux can happily co-exist with Windows on a PC giving users a choice of OS at boot time.

For more information see ISD supports only the RedHat distribution of Linux.

Getting a Unix Account and Further Information

To gain access to Cosmos (and in the future, Eric), ask at the ISD Helpdesk. (Users are not registered for Unix services by default.) An account will usually be ready for use within 24 hours. Further information on Cosmos and Eric (including a full list of available applications), and Unix in general is available at

(In the past student accounts on Cosmos were limited to those who met certain study or reseach-related criteria. This is no longer the case --- students are encouraged to investigate the Unix service.)

About this document:

Produced from the SGML: /home/isd/public_html/_cosmeric/_isd_handbook_unix/_reml_grp/index.reml
On: 25/1/2003 at 16:3:54
Options: reml2 -i noindex -l long -o html -p multiple