Computer Facilities Overview


The Department runs a computing facility for faculty, staff, and graduate students located in Malott Hall room 103. The Department also provides and maintains computers for regular and visiting faculty and staff, and provides computing facilties for its REU program. Undergraduate students are provided for primarily by computer labs run by the University and individual colleges, but access to Department systems can be provided for undergrads who need to use the Department's specialized mathematical software. See this page for more information.

Systems and Software

Mathematics Software

  • A complete TeX system is installed on all machines. On Linux, TeteX is installed, along with the graphical front-end kile. The Macs have MacTex/TeXShop, and the Windows machines MikTeX.
  • Matlab, Maple, and Mathematica are installed on all Linux machines. Note that we have a limit to the number of users who can be running these programs at one time.
  • Magma and Gap are installed on all systems, without license limitations.
  • The Fenicssoftware for solving partial differential equations is on all Linux systems. Also see how to use Fenics.
  • The web-based Sage system is available on Sage is a combination of the best open-source mathematics packages available. More information is at

    Home Directories

    Home directories are located on the linux file servers pooh and simplex and are shared via NFS to all the department Linux machines. Data is backed up regularly; backups are normally retained for 7 days.

    The Department also operates an AFS (Andrew File System) server. Files on this server can be shared not only to department Linux machines, but to other computers anywhere in the world. Contact the systems staff for more information.

    You can download files from and upload them to your home directory via our webdisk system. This also allows you to edit some files in place.


    Your Address
    Department vs University email
    The Math Department's email system is separate from the University system run by Cornell Information Technologies. Most people thus have 2 addresses, and It is usually wise to select one of these systems as primary and have mail from the other system forwarded to it.

    Options for reading email

    Alpine, the latest version of Pine, is a popular and easy-to-use terminal-based Linux mail program, and is available on all our systems. More info can be found here.
    Thunderbird is a full-featured graphical-user-interface mail system. However, it keeps mail in its own folders, and that mail is not accessible from Pine, Webmail or other clients.
    Evolution is also available, and is recommended for those who like Microsoft Outlook. Like Thunderbird, it keeps mail in its own folders.
    Other GUIs
    Other GUI options inluce balsa and kmail
    The good old Linux "mail" program is available, as are Elm and Mutt.
    The Department now has a webmail system, allowing you to read your email from any web browser. It uses the same folder structure as Pine, so you can go back and forth between Pine and webmail at will. Most accounts created in 2006 or later come with access to webmail; others can be updated for webmail access - just ask. The webmail system is at

    Spam Filtering

    The Department uses Spamassassin for system-wide spam filtering. It is no longer necessary for users to run it themseleves. Spamassassin assigns a "spam score" to each message; if the score is 6 or higher, it puts a [spam] tag on the subject line. If the score is 9 or higher, the message is rejected and an error message returned to the sender.

    Mail Forwarding

    If you'd like your mail to forwarded, create a file called .forward (note the dot) in your home directory, containing a single line with the new address.

    If you also want to keep a copy here, make the line read instead as

    If you do this, make sure you clean out your local mailbox occasionally! It's important that the protections on the .forward file should not allow writability by any non-system accounts on the system (e.g. chmod 644 .forward) Otherwise our sendmail system will for security reasons silently ignore your forwarding instruction!

    You can also set forwarding using the webmail system.

    University (CIT) Email

    General info
    CIT mail help on other mail clients
    (incl. outlook, pc-pine, mozilla, netscape) (The pc-pine page suggestion of changing your inbox-path entry to {}inbox is a way to read your Cornell NetID mail on our unix systems.)

    Email Privacy

    The Department follows all Cornell University policies protecting the privacy of email messsages. However, users should keep in mind that email is not a very private medium; we advise you not to use email to send sensitive or confidential information unless you use strong encryption.

    Email Encryption

    The gpg encryption software package is installed on our Linux systems and can be used to strongly encrypt email. Note that to get the full privacy that this software can provide, you need to be careful in its configuration and use.

    Special Media

    USB Sticks
    All Linux machines work well with plug-in USB flash memory drives, commonly called "USB sticks.". Simply plug the drive into any USB port on the machine. An icon will appear on your desktop giving access to the drives; in the shell environment, it appears under /media. Before removing the drive, right-click on the icon and select "unmount volume."
    Floppies, CD's, and Zip Disks
    Burning CD's

    Intensive Computing

    You should not tie up the console of a shared machine with long-running computing jobs. Instead, see these instructions for running jobs without having to stay logged in.

    Web Publishing

    Your account comes with web space. To use it, create a folder in you rhome directory called html. Make sure it is readable (but not writable) by all users. Place your website files in this directory; your home page should be named index.html. If this file is not present, people who go to your website will see a "permission denied" error.

    You can edit the files in your html directory directly on one of our Linux machines; the graphical HTML editor Kompozer is available, or you can use any text editor. You can also prepare the files on another computer and use the webmail system's "webdisk" feature to upload them. The web design program Dreamweaver is installed on the Macs in room 103.

    You can also edit HTML files directly with the HTML editor that is part of the webdisk system. To do this, create a file with the extension .html; you will then see an "EditHTML" option next to the file name. Note that this editor is best used for new or simple pages; it may not be able to handle complex HTML that was created by another program.

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