Remote Access

Remote access to systems in our department.

All users of our systems can access their files remotely; however, we currently do not provide general support to students or faculty for Samba and CIFS shares (i.e. mounting as a Windows drive) owing largely to security and usability considerations. (There is a legacy Samba setup; however, no support is provided.) There are a number of alternatives to Windows shares that we do support and consider effective for most needs.


If you are a Linux or Mac user, you can use the Secure Shell Filesystem client, which makes use of the Fuse project. Linux users can simply install the sshfs package (e.g., on Ubuntu: apt-get install sshfs). The Dokan project on Windows provides the same capabilities as sshfs on Linux and the Mac.

Secure FTP (sftp)

Most Secure Shell clients have the ability to upload/download files. If you are looking for something that is less transparent than a typical filesystem and can live with an upload/download model, this might be all you need (and seemingly, is what most of our users want).

Version Control Systems

We recommend that all of our students learn how to use the Concurrent Versioning System (CVS) or Subversion, especially for programming classes. Source code management is available through command-line tools or nicely integrated into many development environments, such as Eclipse and NetBeans (even Visual Studio supports Subversion through the AnkhSVN add-in). The TortoiseSVN and TortoiseHg clients for Windows are particularly nice!

Gnome and KDE

If you are an Ubuntu desktop user at home, both of these UIs allow you to connect to a remote place via SSH and browse folders as part of the UI's shell (that is, you don't need to go to the dreaded terminal). In Gnome, Places -> Connect to Server will allow a user to connect to a ssh server and will then treat that connection to your home directory like a mounted drive.

PuTTY and Cygwin

Speaking of SSH access, Windows users are encouraged to use the PuTTY or Cygwin support for SSH. There are a number of good commercial solutions but these cost big money (between $75-$100) and are not likely to be cost effective (let alone necessary) for most members of our community.


Unison is an excellent 2-way file synchronization tool. It supports all platforms.

Last modified December 27, 2021: updates to various systems pages (2a10820)