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:
    • You probably are not the only person using that machine. So do not reboot the machine, shutdown the machine, borrow the machine's network cable, or otherwise disrupt its operation, unless you absolutely have to.
    • 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.