Astronomy  /  Internal Info  /  IT Resources  /  Primer for New Astro User

New User Primer

The Caltech Astronomy network consists of a couple of hundred machines, including Unix, Windows, and Mac OS systems. Here are some important things to keep in mind when using our machines:

  • The primary way to obtain IT assistance is to send e-mail to This will reach our entire group, and someone will assist you.
  • Our Unix machines are networked such that most users can access most machines using the same account credentials and the same basic home directory. Therefore, keep in mind:
    • Changing your password on one machine will change it on all machines.
    • Your home directory is a network resource. It is therefore not very large (~a few GBs) and not very fast. We do make nightly snapshots of your home directory, so it's a great place to store papers, text files, code, etc. It is NOT a good place to store data or large software installations, such as Python.
    • For data analysis, most machines have /scr or /data areas that are physically on the machine and quite large (unlike your home directory). These are good places to store data and large software distributions
  • The network in Cahill - including both the wired and wireless networks - is managed by the IMSS computing group on campus. However, we can help you with any issues you might have.
  • We manage a network of printers in Cahill. These are named consistently as either "bwXXX" or "colorXXX", depending on whether the printer is a black-and-white or a color printer. The "XXX" number is the room number in which - or near to which - the printer resides.