[TriLUG] linux @ UNC, was: [dcrp-students] Question - first year
Tom_Roche at pobox.com
Thu May 27 12:31:25 EDT 2010
fw to dcrp-students 27 May 2010 10:20:59 -0400
> I am an incoming [UNC] student and plan on buying a new laptop this
> summer. I am deciding between a Mac and a preloaded-Linux (probably
> Ubuntu) laptop.
IMHO UNC is unduly Windows-oriented, but one can thrive with Linux.
I've been using an Ubuntu-only laptop for my classes and research
exclusively (excepting ArcGIS, below) since 2009, and dual-booting
XP/Ubuntu before that.
> did you run into any problems (connecting to the UNC network, not
> being able to run specific software, etc)?
No, yes, and who helps:
> connecting to the UNC network,
I've had very few problems with main UNC wired/wireless network,
SSID="UNC-1". (The guest network, SSID="Tar-Heel", is not available
always/everywhere, but is pretty good in New East.) Before connecting
to UNC-1, you gotta register your devices' network MAC addresses @
and to use that you'll need ONYEN (UNC's "single sign-on" wannabe)
credentials. Then follow the UNC Information Technology Services (==ITS)
> not being able to run specific software,
My two UNC-related software problems, in descending pain level, are
- ArcGIS: the dominant GIS vendor, heavily used in a few classes,
useful for research, and (IIRC) Windows-only. (There *are*
open-source GIS, and one of their major academic partisans, Helena
is @ NCSU, but ArcGIS dominates UNC.) You can run ArcGIS via Wine,
Parallels, etc (and of course via dual-boot); I just ran it on an
old winXP box and ssh-ed or VNC-ed as needed.
- Cisco VPN. Most folks won't need this, but some will (notably users of
the Topsail research cluster, which BTW runs Linux). The good news is,
connecting from off-campus is easy with newer Linuxes (I'm using
Ubuntu Karmic). The bad news is, the ITS documentation for connection
via Linux is out-of-date (i.e. fails on newer kernels). For an easier
For further help:
There are several excellent linux user groups (LUGs) at/near UNC,
highly recommended for asking any further questions in this domain you
* TriLUG, the Triangle LUG
is huge. It's (IMHO) partial to RH/Fedora/CentOS, since Red Hat is the
"hometown OS" (if you consider Raleigh part of the "UNC area" :-) but
there's also lotsa Ubuntu users. In any case, the advice I've gotten
there has been not only unfailingly excellent, but also prompt. (It
is high-traffic, so consider subscribing the trilug digest, or the
* COSI, the Carolina Open Source Initiative
is not really a LUG, but
+ most of its members use Linux
+ has some definite Dell-Ubuntu partisans
+ it doesn't require posting from @unc.edu, as does the list for the
* UNC LUG
which is good, but low-traffic.
IMHO ITS is not usually helpful with Linux (or Mac, though I'm sure
there are also insurgent Maciban @ ITS) outside Research Computing. I
also know there are MUGs on campus--I just don't know them well.
HTH, Tom Roche <Tom_Roche at pobox.com>
More information about the TriLUG