Amherst IT provides two Unix servers for general use, Romulus and Remus. They provide the main interface to working with the College's traditional web server, and are also used to learn computer programming and for scientific research. There is also a computing cluster for resource-intensive projects that can be split into many independent or semi-independent tasks.
The Unix operating system was one of the first multiuser operating systems running on small computers, appearing in 1969. Educational institutions were early adopters, and they used it to develop a large number of programming and networking tools. Currently there are many different implementations of Unix, but one of the most common is called Linux. The College's Unix servers run the Linux implementation called CentOS.
Features and Benefits
Both Romulus and Remus have 48 GB of RAM and 32 CPUs. They run 64-bit CentOS 6.10 (Red Hat Linux 6.10).
Available software includes:
- Matlab and Octave
- R (though the Web-accessible server rstudio.amherst.edu may be preferred, as it provides an integrated development environment)
- Python 2.x and 3.x (with NumPy, SciPy, and Matplotlib)
- GNU C and C++
- Alpine (formerly called Pine)
You can only access the Amherst Unix servers remotely over the network, from another computer such as your desktop or laptop, using communications software for different purposes.
You can use command-line programs, which provide a text-based interface to Unix programs using the Secure Shell Protocol (SSH). You can also use graphical programs which provide a windows-based interface to Unix programs using the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP).
You can also exchange files with these computers using built-in Macintosh and Windows file-sharing, as well as applications that provide Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) or Secure Copy (SCP).
Romulus and Remus are mirror images of one another, so you can choose to work with either romulus.amherst.edu or remus.amherst.edu and see the same set of files.
If you only need command-line access, you can use the
ssh program on your personal computer after launching one of the following command-line programs:
- Mac: look in the
Utilitiesfolder and open
- Newer versions of Windows 10 or later: look in the
Startmenu and open
- Older versions of Windows 10 or earlier: install Git for Windows and then in the
If you need graphical access, there are two possibilities that we recommend:
- Remote Desktop Connection is an application that runs on a Windows or Mac desktop. This app is pre-installed on Windows machines, while Mac users can get it at the App Store.
- The X Windows system lets you create windows on the Unix systems that appear on your Mac desktop. Windows for Unix applications are intermingled with windows for applications that are running locally on the Mac.
There are a couple of ways to access Unix files from your local computer. It's often convenient to work directly with your files by connecting a network drive to your local computer:
You can also copy files to and from the servers using the Secure Copy Protocol (SCP) or the Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP), which require fewer resources:
Every member of the college community is given 2.5 GB of file space on Romulus and Remus (accessible through either one). Learn to manage your file quota so you can avoid exceeding your limit: