SEAS Computing Manual

Computing and Educational Technology Services
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
University of Pennsylvania
(215) 898-4707

Once you have a Pennkey, you may activate your SEAS account via the CETS online account management tools. If you are an incoming freshman, you have the option of setting up your account via CampusExpress. If you are a faculty or staff member in need of an account, you will need to contact CETS directly to set up an account.

Note: the information below, along with lots of other information is available in CETS Answers.

Changing Your Password

For more security, you should change your password after you use it on a less trusted computer (such as a cyber cafe or an airport kiosk). You should also change your password if it hasn't been changed in a while (the more often, the better). You can change your SEAS password by logging into SEAS Online Account Services at using your PennKey or your old SEAS password.

Note: Your SEAS password can be the same as your PennKey password, but they are not necessarily the same. Your PennKey password will also give you access to all SEAS facilities.




Here are some of the servers available through your SEAS account:

Type Server Name Application
SSH (unix shell) ssh, SecureCRT
SFTP sftp, FileZilla
Webmail Firefox, IE
IMAP/POP/SMTP Follow these instructions Thunderbird, Apple Mail
Web server How to set up your web site


Linux Labs - Moore 100A and Moore 207

The computers in Moore 100A and 207 are running Suse Linux, and use your SEAS username and password to log in. When you first open a shell on a lab PC, you see the files in your SEAS home directory because your SEAS directory has been "mounted" for you in this lab.For more information on using these machines, see the “Unix Basics” section later in this document.

The labs in Moore 207 and 100A double as classrooms for CIS, CIT and CSE courses, so please remember to be quiet and courteous when using the labs. Additionally, because of 100A's intimate environment, it is best to do your work on one of the computers in the outer room if a class is being conducted. Both labs are available to anyone with an SEAS account. The Moore 2007 lab requires a combination, which can be obtained by presenting your Penn card to the consultants in Levine Hall 164.

When you are finished using a lab computer, you should log out to protect your files and comply with the SEAS servers policy. To log out of a Linux machine, click on the main menu in the lower left corner and select “Logout”. (If you're using the Windowmaker windows manager, right-click and select "exit".)

If you need power or internet for your laptop, please do not unplug a machine because it disrupts classes. Wireless internet is available in all of the labs. Additionally, there are extra ethernet jacks and power outlets in most of the labs for laptop use.

Windows Labs - Towne M62 and M70, Moore 100B and 100C

If you need a PC running Microsoft Windows, you can use one of the computers in the CETS operated labs in Towne M62 and M70, and Moore 100B and 100C. All labs but M70 are open to SEAS students 24 hours without a combination. M70, however, is a staffed lab with posted hours. The lab's hours are as follows: Monday-Thursday 9am-Midnight, Friday 9am-5pm, Saturday 12:30-4:30pm, and Sunday 1pm-Midnight

Unlike the Linux labs, you use your PennKey name and password to log into these Windows computers. If you have an SEAS account, you will be asked to enter your SEAS password after entering your PennKey password. This double-login method grants you access to the computer and also mounts your SEAS home directory so you can access these files in the lab. Once you have logged in, you can connect to SEAS or Gradient remotely without re-entering your password. For more information on logging in remotely to a server, see the following section.

As with any shared computer, it is important that you log out when you are finished. To log out of the Windows machines, click on the Start menu in the lower left corner of the window, then click on “Shut Down” and select “Logout” from the menu, then click OK.

If you need power or internet for your laptop, please do not unplug a machine because it disrupts classes. Wireless internet is available in all of the labs. Additionally, there are extra ethernet jacks and power outlets in most of the labs for laptop use.

Office Computers

Many graduate students, faculty and staff will also have access to a Windows or Linux machine on a desk in their office. These machines are configured very similarly to the computers in the labs.

Connecting to SEAS Servers Remotely

You can use any of the computers provided by SEAS, or your own machine to connect to the SEAS servers. The recommended way of doing this is to use the “Secure Shell”, or ssh, protocol. SSH encrypts information and passwords so they cannot easily be viewed by anyone else. All lab and office computers in SEAS are equipped with an SSH client. Here are some instructions for logging into the SEAS servers from various supported computers.

From a Computer Running Unix (Linux, Solaris, Irix, OpenBSD, etc)
From a unix terminal window (such as xterm), type the command “ssh”. When asked if you would like to accept the new host key, hit y. Enter your username and password for the server you are trying to log into. When you are finished using the server, type “exit” to close the ssh session.
From a Lab Computer Running Windows
Once logged into the computer, double-click the “Eniac” icon on the left side of the screen. This runs SecureCRT, a windows ssh client. You will not need to enter your password in this case because the PennKey you used to log into the computer lets you connect to other servers using Kerberos, an authentication method using tickets. For more information on Kerberos, see To connect to a different server, click on the leftmost “New Window” button at the top of the window, and double-click on the server name. If the server you want to connect to is not listed, click the “new” button and enter the server name. Be sure to select “ssh2” as the protocol. Hit “Ok” and then double-click on the server name to connect. If prompted, enter your username and password for the server you are trying to connect to. When you are finished using the server, be sure to type “exit” to close the ssh session and avoid losing any of your data.
From your own machine (Windows or Macintosh):
Windows: Visit to download the SecureCRT program for free from Penn. Once you have downloaded and installed this product, you can use it to connect to a SEAS server, just like you would use it in one of the Windows labs.
Macintosh: Visit to download the dataComet Secure program for free from Penn. This product is the Macintosh equivalent of SecureCRT.
Connecting to your home



If you choose to bring your own computer to campus and connect it to Penn’s network, the first thing you will need to do is understand how to secure your computer against hackers. An unsecured machine can be compromised (“cracked”) within minutes. SANS Step-by-Step Security Guides are available at

Computer security is an ongoing process. Prompt and thorough attention to applying security patches is critical. You should make a point of applying security patches no more than one business day after their release, and sooner whenever possible. By the time a vendor releases a security patch, you can be sure that others are aware of the hole and will be actively seeking out machine on which to exploit the vulnerability.

For Linux users, please visit the Linux Best Practices Answers article.

Connecting to the Penn Wireless Network

Please see the Answers article on how to connect to the AirPennNet wireless network.


All of our servers are backed up every night. We strongly encourage you to backup your personal computer on a regular basis as well. In the past, people in SEAS have lost many months of work because they did not have a reliable backup. This sort of disaster can result in losing valuable research data, papers ready to submit for publication, grant proposals in preparation, etc. If you need help setting up backups on your PC, email



The first thing you might want to do is set up your accounts so all your email goes to one place.

To automatically "Forward" your email, you can log into the SEAS Account Services website at and click on "Configure Mail Forwarding" in the sidebar. When prompted, enter the address to which you would like to have your SEAS mail automatically forwarded. If mail is already being forwarded, you may remove the forward by visiting the same site.

We don't recommend having your mail delivered in two places because it doubles the work of managing, checking, and deleting mail. Sometimes it's handy to forward mail to a phone or PDA and leave a copy on the server.


The easiest way to check your email in SEAS is by using Webmail. Webmail is a web-based IMAP client that can be accessed from anywhere with a web browser. Because the program uses the IMAP protocol, it is safe to use with Thunderbird, MacMail, and Mutt (see below). Webmail is recommended for use when at public computers and at home if the other methods are unavailable. Webmail is available at For additional information and help, visit the help section of the Webmail website.

Graphical Mail Clients

If you prefer to use a graphical client to check mail, you might consider accessing your email through programs such as Thunderbird and MacMail. To set up your home graphical client to check email, please visit the Answers article on the reading mail at SEAS.

Text-Based Mail Clients

The standard text-based (see UNIX Basics) mail reader we recommend is "mutt". Mutt is a powerful, configurable mail program. It has a helpful mini-menu on the screen to show you what key to press to do what you want, and pressing '?' will bring up a help screen.

Note: You should try to pick one email method and stick with it. A lot of people lose mail because the different programs don't work well together. Mutt may be safely used in conjunction with IMAP clients, but be careful not to run the programs simultaneously, and be sure not to delete the file entitled "IMAP MESSAGE - DO NOT DELETE" visible in the Mutt inbox.

Dealing with Spam

We have automatic spam filtering at the server level that will take care of some of the most obvious spam messages, but there will be many other spam messages that get through to your inbox. We recommend using a personal spam filter to deal with those spam messages that get through.

For more information on how to set this up, please visit the personal spam filter Answers article.



Where to Get Printouts

CETS provides two public printing locations in the engineering school. These printers are located in the CETS office in Levine Hall 164 and in Towne M70. Additionally, the CETS office has a color laser printer available to students and staff with the the presentation of a Penn Card in the CETS office. Printing is free to SEAS students and faculty, but is for this reason subject to certain restrictions. For detailed information, please see the CETS Print Policy at

Note: When retrieving your printout, please wait for it to appear in the marked bins in front of the help desk. The CETS consultants on duty are responsible for the distribution of output. Also, please place your printout's cover sheet in the recycling bin.

To print to the printers located in Levine Hall 164, use the command:

% lpr -P164 file

To print to the printers located in Towne M70, use the command:

% lpr -Pm70 file

"file" can be a Postscript file, a program listing, or a text file.

Conserver Paper by Compressing Printouts

Students are asked to keep their output to reasonable amounts so that CETS and the CIS Department will be able to continue offering free printing. To aid in this effort, there are programs available on the SEAS servers which allow printing to be "compressed" into a smaller format to take up less space on a page. This way, two or more pages of a document can be made smaller and fit onto a single sheet to conserve paper. A couple of examples are listed below.

The "mpage" command is the fastest and simplest way to save paper on the SEAS servers. To print the file "foo" so that four pages of text are printed on a single sheet of paper, type

% mpage foo

This will cause the document to be printed on the default printer, which is located in Levine Hall 164. If this is too small to read, you can type

% mpage -2 foo

to print two pages of text on a single sheet. If you would like to use mpage to print the document to the printer in M70, you can type "mpage -PM70 foo", just as if you were using the "lpr" command. Also, if you're using unix or linux, you can replace the "lp" command in Netscape's print preferences to compress web pages you are printing. For more information on mpage, type "man mpage" at the command prompt.

The "enscript" command works basically the same way as mpage, but is much more customizable. For information on using enscript, type "man enscript" at the command prompt. Note: enscript only works on text files, whereas mpage works on both text and postscript files.


CETS does not itself offer software to install beyond that paid for by faculty, but Penn has purchased licenses for select connectivity programs for use by students and faculty free of charge via download with a Pennkey username and password. For more information, see Penn Computing's supported products page at

Additionally, if you are a student interested in Microsoft Product development, you may be eligible to receive a copy of select Microsoft products under the Dreamspark program.


We've tried to make this manual as helpful as possible to you in your first days in the engineering school, but you will undoubtedly have a few questions about more specific things. To help you out, there are a number of other in-depth computing references available. If you run into problems that this manual can't solve, try some of the sources listed in this section.

CETS Answers

Probably the easiest way to find help with most problems regarding the SEAS servers is to visit the CETS Answers online help database located at This program, which can be viewed in any web browser (like Netscape or Internet Explorer), lets you type your question into a search engine. The results it brings back have been written specifically for the SEAS servers, and are therefore always relevant to the system.

The "man" Command

If the question you have is very specific about the individual commands or options available on a Unix or Linux program, and the Answers site doesn't quite do the job, you can view the online manual entry for almost all of these programs with the "man" command. For example, if you would like more information on the command-line options available for the Mutt email program, type the command "man mutt" to see mutt's manual page.

CETS Help Desks

If you're having problems with a CETS lab computer, or with a program or account problem related to the SEAS servers, you can find help year-round from CETS student consultants working in Levine 164. Additionally, there is a help desk available in the PC lab in Room M70 on the mezzanine level of the Towne building (up the stairs and around the lab near the Towne 111 Advising Office). During the school year, both desks are available from 9 a.m. to 12 midnight. Over the summer, the CETS office in Levine 164 is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The CETS office also provides software manuals for lab use to students with a Penn card.


  • If you are a graduate CIS or CIT student and need to get in touch with someone regarding your office furniture or trash, email

  • If you experience a problem with a mechanical system in the building, such as a burned out light, broken heating or cooling, or a broken lock, please contact Engineering Operational Services.

  • If you are having a problem with your SEAS account that you can't fix by using the above SEAS computing references, write an email to

As you become more and more involved in your engineering career, keep in mind that CETS is not the expert on all course-specific and research-based problems and software. Oftentimes, your most valuable help resource will be the other people involved in your course of study, and oftentimes those people working with you will have more knowledge of your specific problem than the consultants at CETS.