We use cookies on this site. By browsing our site you agree to our use of cookies. Close this message Find out more

Home > Computer Science home > For current students > Research Training: Using Departmental Software for Research
More in this section Postgraduate research

Research Training: Using Departmental Software for Research

Connecting to UNIX/Linux Systems

  • logging in securely: ssh (a secure equivalent of telnet, which has been disabled on the departmental servers)
  • copying files securely between UNIX machines: scp (a secure equivalent of ftp)
  • graphical connection: NX
    • secure and recommended by support
    • can be used for logging in from outside; if your connection is fast enough, the response time is quite reasonable
    • read the installation instructions carefully!
    • use version 1.5.0
    • .nx/config only appears after you run the program once
    • set Configure->General->Display to Fullscreen
    • still not very reliable :-(
  • alternative for graphical connections: VNC
    • not secure and therefore not good for logging in from outside
    • when installing on a Windows machine, install only the client!
    • to run, start a remote server first (you need to log in using, e.g., putty) and then a client on your machine
    • simple and highly reliable
  • your own little UNIX on a Windows machine: cygwin
    • allows you to run UNIX scripts under Windows
    • using ssh -X you can connect to a Unix machine and run programmes (including those with GUI) remotely

Some Books and Links

  • emacs editor: D.Cameron, Learning GNU Emacs. O'Reilly , 1991. RHUL code: 001.6425 CAM (may be difficult for UNIX beginners)
  • Numerical Recipes: a series of books by H.S.Press et al with complete code
    • C and FORTRAN versions are available on-line: www.nrbook.com.
    • C++ version is available from the library: Numerical Recipes in C++, Cambridge, 2002. RHUL code OO1.6424 NUM
  • from support:


  • to start, type matlab
    • a no-GUI version: matlab -nojvm; it is more reliable and you can still draw graphics
  • learning MatLab: go to Help->MATLAB->Printable Documentation and read "Getting Started"; use the other manuals for reference and further reading
    • This tutorial was written for a final year course; you may find it useful to get started.
  • some features of MatLab:
    • intended for numerical computations; has a huge library of numerical methods
    • based on matrices (MATrix LABoratory)
    • has great graphics and many tools for visualising data
    • good for rough and ready prototypes
    • no type checking; encourages poor programming style
    • efficient use of MatLab requires vectorisation
    • if necessary, extra routines can be written in C
  • if you have a Windows machine connected to the departmental system, you can install and run MatLab
  • if you have a Linux machine connected to the departmental system, you can run MatLab; the executable code will be downloaded from a departmental server.


  • to start, type mathematica
    • before running under NX, you need to set up fonts: in Configure->General->Environment specify font server fonts.cs.rhul.ac.uk and port 7100.
    • when running under NX, make sure that NumLock is off (!)
    • a no-GUI version: math; you can still draw graphics
  • learning Mathematica: go to Help->Help Browser->The Mathematica Book and look through "A Practical Introduction to Mathematica"
  • some features of Mathematica:
    • intended mainly for symbolic calculations
    • can serve as a reference book for integrals, sums of series etc
    • pretty good graphics capabilities
    • programming is tricky and counterintuitive
  • if you have a Linux machine connected to the departmental system, you can run Mathematica; the executable code will be downloaded from a departmental server.
  • the departmental license only allows running 3 instances of Mathematica simultaneously; after you have finished working with Mathematica, please do not forget to exit



Comment on this page

Did you find the information you were looking for? Is there a broken link or content that needs updating? Let us know so we can improve the page.

Note: If you need further information or have a question that cannot be satisfied by this page, please call our switchboard on +44 (0)1784 434455.

This window will close when you submit your comment.

Add Your Feedback