IT Services

Unix Servers


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

Features and Benefits: 

Both Romulus and Remus have 16 GB of RAM and 8 CPUs. They run 64-bit CentOS 6.4 (Red Hat Linux 6.4).

Available software includes:

  • Mathematica 9 (with FeynArts-3.8, FeynCalc-8.2)
  • Matlab R2013a and Octave
  • R
  • Python 2.7 and 3.3 (with NumPy, SciPy, and Matplotlib)
  • Java
  • GNU C and C++
  • Fortran
  • Haskell
  • Eclipse
  • TkGate
  • 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.

You can log in to these servers a number of different ways:

  • Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) provides a graphical user interface;
  • Secure Shell (SSH) provides a command-line (text) interface;
  • X11 provides a graphic interface to individual applications such as Emacs, Mathematica, or Matlab, but is usually initiated by command line;
  • VNC and NX servers are also provided for those who need them, though these access methods are discouraged in favor of the above for security and performance reasons.

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).

Getting Started

Getting Started: 

Romulus and Remus are mirror images of one another, so you can choose to work with either or and see the same set of files.

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 File Transfer Protocol (SFTP), a popular method because it has less overhead:

Every member of the college community is given 500MB of file space on Romulus and Remus (accessible through either one). Learn to manage your file quota so you can avoid exceeding your limit:


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