General System Information

General System Information

Default Shell

By default, the login shell is Bash. This can be changed by sending a request to MWS. To run commands when you login, you can put them in the file:


This will be source'd every time you login to the system. Note that if you want specific things only for opening a new terminal window/screen window, then use:


For more info on the order of what scripts are executed and when on login/logout, see this page.

Operating Systems Available

In order to give a decent and up-to-date desktop experience, we use the Fedora distribution that is based on Red Hat. However, as a lot of the software we use is tied to CentOS, you can change (technically chroot) to a CentOS 7 image by doing:


If there is specific setup you want done when you enter a CentOS 7 shell, add them to the file:


and this will be source'd when the shell starts.

Changing Password

To change your password (which you should do on a semi-regular basis!), you can use the command:


After giving your current password you will be able to enter a new one. Note that it needs to pass the complexity restrictions to be accepted which means it must:

  • Be a minimum of 8 characters long (though the longer the better!)
  • Contain upper and lowercase letters, numbers and punctuation
  • Cannot include dictionary words or your username


AFS (Andrew File System) used to be used extensively at CERN but is being gradually phased out and replaced by EOS. AFS can still be used on request but isn't available by default on the desktops.


On joining the group you'll get an email address that is based on:

This will be set to forward any group email to the forwarding address you gave when the account was created. This forwarding address can be any valid email you'd like, e.g. CERN, University, Gmail, etc. In addition, your email will automatically added to the appropriate group email lists. If you'd like to change any of these settings, please get in touch with MWS.

There are several email lists available, the most useful ones are (all are

  • ppgroup, ppstaff, ppstud: the whole group, staff or students excluding ALICE members
  • epgroup, epstaff, epstud: the whole group, staff or students including ALICE members
  • localusers: Users with a registered office in the department
  • e.g. atlasgroup, atlasstaff, atlasstud: Each group (e.g. atlas, lhcb, dune, na62, etc.) have their own group, staff and student lists
  • newstud: PhD students that have joined in the last 12 months
  • uglist: Any currently active undergraduates

To find out which users are on which lists, you can use the praliases command.

To avoid confusion, note that your University provided email ( or is accessed through the page From this Outlook web interface, you can manage this email here or get it forwarded somewhere else (Go to 'Settings' -> 'Options' -> 'Inbox and Sweep Rules'). Again though, the login here is your University provided (or ADF) login, NOT your PP group Linux login!

Grid Certificates and Website SSL Access

It is highly likely you will need a Grid Certificate while working in the group. Your experiment may have particular rules for how to go about this, but if not you can request a CERN one from here. Alternatively, you can request a UK one from here. This will involve getting in touch with MWS to show your university ID in order to authorise your request. There is a dedicated page describing the process here: Requesting a Grid Certificate.

As well as being required for a lot of experimental operations, your grid certificate will also allow you to gain write access to the Twiki (if you send MWS your DN), request SSH access through the SSL check page or access our internal pages when offsite. The Certificate for this web server (the https part of it at least) is signed by the UK eScience Authority. More info for getting your browser to trust it can be found here.

Access to Windows Applications

If you wish to get access to Windows-specific applications like Office, there are two main ways. You can download and install them on your own Windows machine from the My Software provided by the University or following the instructions in this KB article. Alternatively, you can access the Remote Desktop Service which will give you a fully featured remote Windows desktop. Intructions can be found in this KB article.

Printing and Scanning

To print when in the department, please use the Managed Print Service. The desktops are already setup to print to this using the 'SafeQ' printer option. After sending a print job, go to one of the printers (Coffee area 2nd floor, W333A on the 3rd floor), tap your University Card and give your central university username and password. You should then be able to print your job from the 'Waiting' Queue. You can also use these devices for photocopying or scanning to email. For more info about the service and instructions about how to set it up on a privately owned laptop, please see this KB article. Note that if you find it doesn't work, you may not have given MWS your ADF username - get in touch with it and it will be updated!

Public Webpages

If you wish, you can have a personal web area setup that is editable from your home area. A typical example can be found here. Please email MWS if you would like this facility. Note that if you do have a personal webpage, be aware that everything is indexed by Google and it is your responsibility to ensure there is no Copyright or GDPR infringing material publically accessible.