Help for New Users

Welcome to the Computer Science Department.
If you have just logged into your CS account for the first time, this is the first thing you see. This page contains some information to help first-time users get started.

This Web

This is the Computer Science Department's web. We hope you will find the answers to most of your questions here.

You are smack in the middle of the technical staff's web (Computer Systems and Software).

Brown University IT Acceptable Use Policy

This is the official word on being a good citizen online at Brown.

Change Your Passwords!

The first, and hardest, thing you must do is change your password to something you can remember.

Here are three methods (stolen from a Yale web page) for creating passwords that are hard to guess yet easy to remember:

1. Randomly pick alternating vowels and consonants. Throw in a digit or two (or change a letter or two to a digit) and punctuate. Mix up the case (randomly capitalize for best effect). This will create passwords that have no meaning in the real world but which can still be sounded out (e.g., Me1&BopA).

2. Combine three and four character words with a punctuation character or digit between them, modify the case of some of the letter and change some of the others to digits or punctuation -- or add digits/punctuation to the beginning or end of the password (e.g. '0Yum|fUn').

3. Randomly pick a book, poem or song. Select a phrase from the work and use the first character of each word in the phrase as your password. Capitalize some of the letters and add in at least one punctuation character and digit (or change some of the existing letters to punctuation and/or digits). For example, the phrase 'Four score and seven years ago our forefathers...' might become '4s&7YaOf'.

To change your linux login password (aka kerberos) use the instructions on this web page.

And, to change it on windows use the web based password sync. Once you've done this your kerberos password will be your linux and windows password.

You also need to set your LDAP password. The instructions for doing that can also be found here.

Linux Help

If you are unfamiliar with Unix/Linux (and you are logged onto a PC running Linux), here are some tips for getting around.

The graphical user interface (GUI) you are looking at is based on the X Window System. Unlike the GUIs that Windows or MacOS present, X lets you choose how things on your desktop look and feel. The default account has a layout which resembles Windows, but you are free to customize it. In fact, we encourage you to - it's the Unix way!

The undergraduates maintain a Introductory Unix Guide and a New User Orientation slideshow (under the Useful Resources heading), both of which are highly recommended.

Windows Help

Windows machines in the CS department allow you to do and access just about everything you can on departmental Unix machines. You can even log in remotely to Unix machines and run programs on your screen.

Files: The entire CS file system is accessible by navigating into "My Computer" and opening Y:. Your home directory is similarly located in "My Computer" as Z:. You should place all your files into either of these two places (or "My Documents," which is actually in your home directory) to ensure that they are included in the filesystem backups. Navigating through the CS filesystem can be done graphically in Windows just as in Unix, with the exception that currently symbolic links are not understood by Windows. Tstaff will be implementing this feature shortly.

Sunlab Help

Welcome! This section is intended to help new students become familiar with the Sunlab working environment and with some of its features and quirks. We hope this information is useful to you.

It's maintained by the sunlab consultants, so let us know how we can make them more useful.

The on-duty is always available to answer your questions and fix your problems. You can either walk to 9a and ask a question in person or you can reach the consultant three other ways:

  • Phone: 863-7721
  • Instant message: run zconsult from a shell (be sure to have zwgc running so the consultant can zwrite you back!)
  • Email:

If your question isn't answered here, please feel free to ask! You can also look at Welcome to the Sunlab for more information, or Portable Sunlab for information about logging into the Sunlab from outside the CS Department building. You will also want to look at the page on Identities, Quotas, and Limited Shell for more detailed information about working in the Sunlab as a student.

General Information

Technical Information