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Windows Support

Officially we don't support Windows, CIS does. But over time it's become clear that some people have to (or even like to!) use Windows, so here are some useful links, tips, and tricks for using Windows machines to access the department's resources.

Note that the Claremont Colleges are not supporting Windows Vista at this time (2008–2009). If that changes, we will update our information for Vista. Until then, if it works on Vista for you, cool, otherwise, you're on your own.

Terminal Access

As you know, the mathematics department systems only allow SSH connections, which means that you will need an SSH client to open a terminal session on one of the department's machines.

Our favorite Windows SSH client is PuTTY, which includes a graphical terminal emulator along with command-line SSH, SCP, and SFTP clients. In addition to doing its job quite well, PuTTY is available under the MIT license, which is certified by the Open Source Initiative and DFSG-free.

You can download the latest version of PuTTY from the official site or your favorite freeware or shareware mirror. Your best bet is probably downloading the Windows-style installer (putty-0.53b-installer.exe at this writing), which includes all the programs with an installer wrapper that puts them in sensible places and creates icons and menu items.

X-Window System

It is possible to display X Window windows from a remote Linux server on a Windows machine over SSH with PuTTY. To do so, you need to first install an X Server on your Windows machine. Xming is a free X Server.

Then you have to start the X Server, then make an SSH connection to a remote server using PuTTY. In the PuTTY configuration dialog (which appears when you first start PuTTY), scroll down in the left pane until you see Connection->SSH->X11 in the tree. Click on X11, and, in the right pane, check the box next to “Enable X11 forwarding”, and set “X display location” to :0. Leave the “Remote X11 authentication protocol” set to MIT-Magic-Cookie-1.

Now open your connection to a remote server. You should be able to launch applications that use X and have their windows appear on your machine.

File Transfer

Although PuTTY includes a nice graphical SSH client, its file-transfer utilities are limited to command-line versions, which aren't that easy or fun to use.

WinSCP is another free (as in beer) program that actually uses PuTTY's code in its core, but adds a user-friendly graphical interface for transferring files.

In the most recent version (2.3.0, as of this writing), you can choose between a standard two-pane interface (one pane is your local machine, the other the remote machine) or a new “Explorer-like” interface, which looks like any other Explorer window. Both interfaces allow you to drag and drop files between your local machine and a remote machine.

WinSCP can be downloaded from the official site or your favorite freeware or shareware mirror. As with PuTTY, you want the installation package.


The department is currently running Samba, a file-sharing tool that uses the CIFS or SMB protocol to share files with systems running Windows or Mac OS X. The Samba server runs on ponder. At present it is not tied in with the standard authentication system, so to use it you will have to request a new password.

Once your account has been set up to use our Samba server, you can change your Samba password by logging into ponder and running the smbpasswd command. See the manual page for smbpasswd for details.