NIU Department of Mathematical Sciences
Basic Information for New Users

Each user of the departmental workstations must have a computer account which makes him "known" to the system. An account consists of a username (or login name) and a password. The login name is public information, while the password is your "secret key". If you haven't received them yet, contact the system manager:

Eric Behr, (815) 753 6727, Watson Hall 323,

Whenever possible we use the last name as username, e.g. johnson. If you have other strong preferences, indicate them when you request an account. The username will be known to the world as part of your electronic mail address (e.g.

A temporary password will be given to you when all the necessary files are set up. You should change this password to a private one when you log in the first time; instructions on doing this and suggestions for choosing a good password are available in a separate document.

Please note that a Math Department computer account is a privilege which can be taken away in case of serious transgressions. The users are subject to local rules, as well as to the Academic Computing Services "Acceptable Use Policy", available online at

Ground Rules

Logging In

You can log into the departmental workstations either remotely over the network using SSH, or while sitting at the console of one of the computers. If the screen is black, do not reach for the power switch! Just hit the Return key to bring the machine to life.

You should see the prompt which looks like

holmes login:
Type the username assigned to you when your Math Department account was set up and press Return. The next prompt will ask for the secret password. Type it carefully (it won't show up on the screen), and press Return again.

If you have problems, make sure the Caps Lock key is not on - passwords are case sensitive. It is also easy to confuse the letter `l' with the digit `1', and zero with capital `O'. If you can't log in after several attempts, contact the system manager.

You should see a prompt such as

holmes.janedoe %
This indicates that the computer is ready for your commands.

Where to go from here?

Point your browser at the main departmental Web page. Click on the item `For new users' (under `Main Help Page -> Unix'). This will transfer you to the online version of the document you are reading now. You can then click on various links which will provide further information.

Here is the list of recommended reading for new users:

Last modified: 7/14/2011 by