The Linux distribution (or distro) currently in use at the University, is Red Hat Enterprise Linux (or RHEL), version 4, 5 & 6. This is the only client Linux OS offered at the Institute. You can install another distro on your laptop if you like, but then you will have to administer the system yourself and you get very limited support from the IT department.


  1. New users, configuration
  2. Window manager configuration
  3. Æ, Ø and Å on english keyboards
  4. MPI on Linux computers, MPICH2
  6. Remote desktop to Windows

New users, configuration

New users should add the following to the top of their shell file:

If you're using tsch, edit .cshrc:

source /local/lib/setupfiles/cshrc

If you're using bash, edit .bashrc:

source /local/lib/setupfiles/bashrc

This is supposed to happen automatically, but it's a good idea to check the shell-file to see if it's been done or not.

Window manager configuration

You can choose which window manager you want as default by editing (or creating) the .xsession.linux file in your home directory. If you have an old .xsession file, move this first.

The .xsession.linux file may look like this:

# Map symbols/keys to the keyboard, for example é, æ, ø and å to F5-F8
# NB: Doesn't work in gnome
xmodmap -e "keysym F5 = eacute Eacute"
xmodmap -e "keysym F6 = ae AE"
xmodmap -e "keysym F7 = oslash Ooblique"
xmodmap -e "keysym F8 = aring Aring"

# Programs to start up

# Start the window manager: gnome, kde or fvwm.
exec gnome-session
#exec startkde
#exec fvwm2

Æ, Ø and Å on english keyboards

If you have an english keyboard but want the norwegian characters æ, ø and å, you can edit (or create) the .xsession.linux file for the KDE or fwvm window managers. (See Window manager configuration).

If you're using Gnome, you'll have to do the following:

  • Log on to Gnome
  • Go to the Applications-menu (usually in upper left or lower left corner)
  • Go to Preferences, -> More preferences -> Sessions
  • Click on the Startup Programs tab
  • Click Add, and put 'xmodmap /astro/local/config/Xmodmap' in the command field

You will now have é, æ, ø and å on the F5-F8 keys the next time you log on.

MPI on Linux computers, MPICH2

To run MPI on for example nekkar, you'll need to start mpd just before you run the program and mpdallexit just after. For example:

> mpd&
> mpirun -np 4 mpi_program.x
> mpdallexit


SCISOFT is a software package available on the Linux computers at the institute. It includes iraf, skycat, imcat, ds9 and a lot more. For more information, see ESOs website on SCISOFT.

If you're having problems, try running

source /scisoft/bin/Setup.csh (or Setup.bash if you're using bash-shell)

If you've been running IRAF on an alpha machine and have problems making it work on Linux, try (re-)moving the old and do an "mkiraf". You may want to run

limit stacksize unlimited (in ~/.cshrc if tcsh-shell) or
ulimit -s unlimited (in ~/.bashrc if bash-shell)

as well.

Remote desktop to Windows

The recommended client for using remote desktop to Windows, is FreeRDP. (rdesktop is no longer recommended due to a bug that tells you you can't connect due to licensing problems). The central Windows login server is called Use for example

xfreerdp -g 1280x1024 -u username -d uio

Your home directory (M:) will be automatically mounted.

Published June 10, 2011 12:38 PM - Last modified Nov. 29, 2017 10:38 AM