Frequently Asked Questions

Connecting to the Computer Science Servers

Question: My instructor told me I “need an account for shell.”  What do they mean?

Answer: Your instructor means you need to have a Computer Science (CS) account in order to remotely connect to the department server named “shell”.

To create a CS account, follow the instructions here: https://system.cs.fsu.edu/newuser/cs-account-setup/

Question: What program do I use to connect to the CS servers?  Do I need to download/install anything?

Answer: If you’re using a Unix-based operating system (Mac, Linux, etc.), you do NOT need to download or install anything because the application you will use—the “terminal”—comes with your operating system.  Search your installed applications for “terminal” to start it up.

If you’re using a Windows-based operating system, you will need to download and install an SSH client program. For more information on SSH clients, see our SSH how-to tutorial: https://system.cs.fsu.edu/newuser/ssh-how-to/

There are SSH client apps for both Android and Apple smartphones, but they tend to be clunky and difficult to use.

Question: How do I log into the CS servers?

Answer:  If you’re using a Unix-based operating system (Mac, Linux, etc.), open the terminal.  Type in the command “ssh user@server.cs.fsu.edu”, where you replace “user” with your CS username and “server” with the name of the server you want to connect to.  Press “Enter” to finish entering in the command.  Enter your password when prompted. You will not see any indication that the program is registering your password as you type it in; this is deliberate.  Just type your password exactly and press “Enter” when finished.

If you’re using a Windows-based operating system, fill in the hostname (the full name of the server you’re trying to reach, including “.cs.fsu.edu”), your CS username, and CS password when and where prompted in your SSH client program.  Bitvise and Tectia will ask you to provide the hostname and your username before prompting you for your password. PuTTY will ask you first only for the hostname, then your username, and then your password.

Question: What’s this “SSH” thing you keep talking about?

Answer:  Explaining SSH fully could take an entire course. To explain superficially, SSH stands for “Secure Socket Shell,” and it refers to a particular standard method for connecting to a computer remotely.  You might sometimes hear SSH used as a verb; if you’re told to “SSH into linprog,” use your SSH client program to connect to the server linprog if you’re using a Windows-based operating system or use the ssh command in the terminal to connect to the server linprog if you’re using a Unix-based (Mac, Linux, etc.) operating system.

Question: Do I need to be on an FSU campus to connect to the CS servers?

Answer: You do not need to be on FSU campus to connect to the CS servers as long as you have Internet.  Be aware that if you’re using a network administered by someone other than yourself (ex. a workplace network) that network may block you from making an ssh connection.  If this is a problem for you, you will have to resolve this between yourself and the administrator of that network.

  • Note: If you use FSU campus wifi, make sure you connect to “FSUSecure” NOT “FSUGuest“. FSUGuest wifi does not allow SSH connections to anywhere.

Question: I’ve figured out how to log in, but now I have absolutely no clue how to do anything past that point.  Where can I learn how to use this?

Answer: The CS department offers an Introduction to Unix course (COP3353), which covers all the basic skills you will need to function in the command-line environment.

If you need to know how to use the command-line environment right now and are not enrolled in this class, there are dozens of command-line Unix tutorials online, both written and video, that you can find using your preferred search engine.

Question: I’ve noticed that my files are the same no matter what server I connect to.  Does it really matter what server I use?

Answer: While most of the CS servers connect you to the same home directory with the same files, what you can do with those files depends on what server you connect to.  You can see a list of who can use which server for what purpose here: https://system.cs.fsu.edu/system-info/hardware/

The ww2 server does not link to the same home directory that the other servers do as it stores student webpages.  You do not have access to the ww2 server by default; ww2 accounts will be given to students who request them and students requiring a web page for a CS class.

CS Account Information and Usage

Question: What do you mean by “CS account information”?

Answer: This is the combination of your CS username and your CS password. Your CS username is generated when your CS account is created; you do not choose this yourself. You set your own CS password during the CS account creation process.

Your CS account is entirely separate from your general FSU account.  We have no control over your general FSU account.  Problems with your general FSU account must be sent to FSU ITS.

Question: When and where do I use my CS account instead of my general FSU account?

Answer: Your CS account is used to log into anything specifically run by the CS department, including department lab computers, department email, and department servers.

If you are in any other computer lab on campus, want to use general FSU email, or want to log into any general FSU website, use your general FSU account information.

Question: What does having a CS account do for me?

Answer: Your CS account primarily does four things:

  1. holds your CS department email
  2. allows you to use computers in CS department labs
  3. allows you to use CS department servers
  4. links your files so they are accessible from any CS department server or computer

Question: What am I allowed to do on the CS servers?

Answer: You are allowed to do work related to your CS coursework and CS-related research within the rules set forth in the TOS you agreed to during account creation.  If you have a ww2 account, we ask you keep your website content related to CS topics.

Please do not use the CS servers for personal business, including storing cryptocurrency.

Question: How long do I get to keep my CS account?

Answer:  If you do not have a major in Computer Science, Computer Criminology, or Computer Engineering but need an account for a CS class, your account is considered a “class” account, and all associated files will be removed after final grades have been posted for the current term.

If you have a major in Computer Science, Computer Criminology, or Computer Engineering, your account is considered a “majors” account and will not be removed until you are no longer enrolled in the university.  We will automatically detect if you qualify for a majors account if your computer-related major is your primary major.  If your computer-related major is a secondary major, create your account and then have your program advisor email us confirming your status so we can reclassify your account.

Graduate and PhD student accounts are classified as “grads” accounts and will not be removed until you are no longer enrolled the university.

Account types are determined at time of account creation.  If you change majors mid-semester or finish your bachelor’s and become a CS graduate student, you will need to submit a help ticket in order to get your account reclassified.

Question: Do I get to keep my files between semesters if my account isn’t removed?

Answer: If your account is preserved between terms, your files will be left as-is.

This being said, we strongly recommend you maintain a personal backup of all files you consider too important to lose as it is very easy to accidentally delete files in the command-line environment.

Question: I don’t want to have to deal with another email account.  Can I disable it?

Answer: You cannot disable your CS email account, but you can set up your CS email account so that it forwards all emails to another address.  See our email page for instructions for how to set up forwarding: https://system.cs.fsu.edu/services/email/

Common Problems

Question: I have a problem! How do I ask for help?

Answer: You can submit a help-desk ticket either by using our ticket form at https://system.cs.fsu.edu (preferred method) or emailing help@cs.fsu.edu.  When submitting a ticket, be as specific as possible about your problem; clear, detailed information helps us help you faster!

If you are on FSU main campus, you can visit our office in MCH208 during normal business hours (8 AM to 5 PM Monday through Friday, excluding University holidays).  Be aware that we may not be able to fix your problem right away and may ask you to submit a help ticket so we can get back to you later.

Lastly, you can call Systems group at 850-644-4019 during normal business hours, but as with in-person help requests, we may not be able to fix your problem right away and may ask you to submit a help ticket so we can get back to you later.  As we cannot verify identities over the phone, we will NEVER handle any business over the phone that involves giving a username or sending a password.

Note that we do not and cannot offer help directly pertaining to your coursework content and research or fix your personal computer, only your access to the necessary communal tools and programs for your CS-related work.

Question: I just submitted a ticket.  When will I hear back?

Answer: It depends on the content of your ticket and when you submitted your ticket.

Systems Group is open during normal business hours on days the University is open.  If you submit a ticket in the evening or during the weekend, do not expect a reply before the next business day.  Tickets concerning CS account information that are submitted during normal business hours are almost always resolved that day.

Question: It’s 11:30 pm, I have an assignment due at midnight, and I can’t get into my account.  Can you help me?

Answer: This is a matter between you, your instructor, and your instructor’s assignment submission policy.

Question: I forgot my CS account username! How do I get it back?

Answer: If you are on campus, you can visit our office in MCH208 during normal business hours to retrieve your username. We will ask to see a photo ID (your FSU ID is fine) before giving you your username.

Alternatively, you can send an email to help@cs.fsu.edu or submit a ticket through the Systems homepage, and we will reply to your ticket with your username. We will only send account information to FSU email addresses, so use your my.fsu.edu email address when submitting your ticket.

Question: I forgot my CS account password! How do I get it back?

Answer: We cannot send you your current password no matter what, but we can reset it.

If you are on-campus, you can visit our office in MCH208 during normal business hours to reset your password. We will ask to see a photo ID (your FSU ID is fine) before resetting your password.

Alternatively, you can send an email to help@cs.fsu.edu or submit a ticket through the Systems homepage. We will generate a new password for you and email it to you. We will only send account information to FSU email addresses, so use your my.fsu.edu email address when submitting your ticket.

Question: I just accidentally deleted/overwrote a really critical file! How do I get it back?

Answer: The only thing we can do is restore files from the most recent daily backup or the most recent weekly backup.  If your file was created and deleted/overwritten in the same day, we almost certainly can’t help you.  If your file was created before midnight and just recently deleted, send us an email with your cs.fsu.edu email address or my.fsu.edu email address with the name and location of the deleted file(s), and we will restore what we can.  If a file was deleted more than a week prior, it is extremely unlikely that we will be able to help you.

We strongly recommend that you keep personal backups of anything you consider too important to lose, particularly of important or time-sensitive projects, and that you exercise extreme caution with the “tar” and “rm” commands, which are the ones most likely to result in unintentional file loss.

Question: Whenever I try to log in, I get a warning that says “WARNING: POSSIBLE DNS SPOOFING DETECTED”, and it won’t let me in.  What’s happening?

Answer: When your computer makes an SSH connection to a host server for the first time, the host server sends your computer a string of characters called a “key”.  Your computer saves this key and uses it to verify the identity of the host whenever you try to log in in the future.  If we make major changes to the server, the host server key will no longer match what your computer’s been told it should be, so it forbids the connection.  At this time, you will get this error if you last used that particular computer to log into shell before the beginning of Fall 2016 or if you last used that particular computer to log into linprog before the beginning of Spring 2017.

To address this error, you will need to remove the old host key from your computer.  There will be a file called “known_hosts” mentioned in the error message; this is where your computer stores keys from host servers it has connected to in the past.  Find where this file is stored, open it with some text editor, and look for the line that begins with the name of the server you were unable to connect to.  Remove the entire line (they tend to be very long), save the file, and exit.  When you try to log into the server again, you will be asked to accept a new key since your computer does not currently have a key for that server; say “yes” to log on.