SL6 Desktops

The new 64bit SL6 desktops are intended to be a combination of a standard Linux desktop, interactive node, grid UI and low priority batch node.

There are five models at the moment; dual-core medium spec systems for undergratuates and summer students, and multi-core high spec ITS64#2-5 for postgrad students and staff. The desktop should be labelled with a model number and identifying DIC number. Be sure to quote both if you are having any problems.


Model CPU GPUSorted descending RAM Disk OS Benchmark Notes


4x2.66 GHz

Core2 Q8400

2GB NVidia



250GB system

250GB /tmp




Benchmark is for all 4 cores combined.


2x2.60 GHz


2GB NVidia


8GB 250GB system



2260 Benchmark is for all 2 cores combined.


4x3.20 GHz


2GB NVidia




500GB /tmp



6569 Benchmark is for all 4 cores combined.


4x2.66 GHz

Core2 Q8400

1GB NVidia



250GB system

250GB /tmp




Uprated PSU for GTX460 graphics card.

Logging in

Use your normal HEP linux login. You can choose Gnome or KDE environments using the session button. We do not mandate either environment and both will run the full range of software, but Gnome tends to have slightly better compatibility with some services.

Desktops can be accessed via SSH from any system on-site (there is no external SSH access for any system other than gateway), and via VNC if you create a VNC session on the desktop. Please do not set up sessions on other people's desktops unless agreed beforehand.

Accessing VNC sessions

VNC sessions running on the desktop can be accessed on and off site. You will need to set up your session with a session number of 10 or lower (eg vncserver :1). On site you can connect your VNC viewer directly to this session eg
  • vncviewer hep140:1
Off site you will need to tunnel through gateway. You can set this up manually but in SL6 or later this is built in, using eg
  • vncviewer -via hep140:1


There is 230GB of temporary storage under /tmp. The standard $HEPTMP variable points to a directory under this. Please do not store files permanently in this area, use your main user area ( $HOME) or hepstore. Files under /tmp are not guaranteed to be kept after a reboot or to be on reliable storage and are cleaned up after 30days by default. Desktops are also intended to be stateless and easily replaced in case of faults.

Be careful with external drives. If they are left connected when a system is upgraded it could be reformatted and the data wiped. Always remove external drives if the system is left unattended or to be rebooted.

WISP cloud storage

SL6 supports the latest Owncloud synchronisation clients meaning you can synchronise files in your user area with the WISP cloud storage system. See the WispStorageGuide for more information on how to set this up.


Pine is now known as 'alpine'.

Mozilla Thunderbird v24.6.0 is installed.

Webmail is available at .

Grid UI

The desktops (and all other standard SL6 systems eg batch nodes) are configured with the EMI grid UI by default, you do not need to configure anything to enable it. Ensure you have a valid proxy before submitting any batch jobs that will access grid resources.

Batch Jobs

The desktops are capable of both submitting and running batch jobs. The standard HEP queues should be available and can be queried with eg qstat.

There is a new queue desk64. This is intended for short-medium length jobs that don't require more than 1GB of RAM each, with desktops running a maximum of 2 jobs (you can specify jobs need two CPUs and thus get 2GB per job). They may be time limited to out of office hours and capacity will vary depending on which desktops are available and their load.

GPU Acceleration

All SL6 desktops (and the kappa interactive node) contain a NVidia graphics card for desktop graphics with a minimum of 1GB video RAM (the vast majority have 2GB). They are also available for CUDA and OpenCL GPGPU processing tasks. The CUDA development kit is available under /batchsoft/cuda/cuda-sl6/ and is enabled by default.

There is also a new batch queue gpgpu which will run on any available node with a GPGPU unit. Please test your code on your own desktop before submitting to the gpgpu queue as the jobs will be running simultaneously with normal user desktop operations. Please run any GPGPU jobs out of office hours (8pm-8am).

GCC and extra software


The system compiler provided with SL6 is version 4.4.6 but most HEP experiment software uses 4.6. The default compiler is 4.6.3 and any provided HEP software will be built against this where possible.

Newer versions of GCC are available on batchsoft. They can be configured by calling the setup script eg for version 4.8.5
  • source /batchsoft/gcc/ 4.8.5
If you supply a version that doesn't exist all available versions for the current OS and architecture will be listed.


The system python provided with SL6 is version 2.6.6 but lots of HEP experiment software uses 2.7.

Newer versions of Python are available on batchsoft. They can be configured by calling the setup script eg for version 2.7.10
  • source /batchsoft/python/ 2.7.10
If you supply a version that doesn't exist all available versions for the current OS and architecture will be listed.

Extra Python modules can be installed in your home directory.

Create a directory you want to use for this eg ~/python. Configure whichever version of Python you want eg

  • source /batchsoft/python/
Add your personal python directory to the PYTHONPATH environment variable eg

  • export PYTHONPATH=~/python:$PYTHONPATH
When installing the module specify this directory as the home for the installation with eg

  • python install --home=~/python


ROOT is available by default from batchsoft and is configured ready for use. The only thing not automatically set is the Python modules as these typically are compiled for v2.7 while the system python is v2.6

Newer versions of ROOT are available on batchsoft. They can be configured by calling the setup script eg for version 5.34.12
  • source /batchsoft/root/ 5.34.12
This will also set up a suitable local version of Python.

If you supply a version that doesn't exist all available versions for the current OS and architecture will be listed. The versions available will vary depending on which version of GCC you have configured.


SL6 provides cmake version 2.8 but many new software packages require cmake version 3.0 or newer.

Newer versions of cmake are available on batchsoft. They can be configured by calling the setup script eg

source /batchsoft/cmake/


All standard print queues are available under SL6.

There is also an extra queue colour-uni which submits print jobs to the University Ricoh Follow-Me-Printing system. We encourage everyone to use this queue where practical as print costs are covered by the department. You will be asked for your university login, please enter your username as LIVAD\username for it work properly.

Further instructions are available on the CSD website .


The audio system should be working. There are two possible microphone and headphone outputs; the rear ports or the front panel. You will need to select which microphone/capture device you are using with eg the Gnome Sound Preferences application (this should also work with most USB headsets).

Gnome Sound Preferences Input

Gnome Sound Preferences Output

Using Vidyo

The Vidyo client should be installed and loaded on login so you shouldn't need to do anything to enable it.If it has crashed it can be reloaded from the System menus, under Network.

Follow the instructions for accessing the Vidyo conference as per any other operating system.

To change the audio/video devices load up the Configuration window and choose the Devices tab.

Vidyo devices tab

Known Issues

  • Java 1.7 is installed on the system (/usr/bin/java) but the Java web start in Firefox may still use the older 1.6 version.
Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
capture.pngpng capture.png manage 16 K 02 Feb 2011 - 14:40 JohnBland Capture devices
evo.pngpng evo.png manage 23 K 02 Feb 2011 - 14:47 JohnBland Evo multimedia config
levels.pngpng levels.png manage 18 K 02 Feb 2011 - 14:40 JohnBland Mixer levels
soundpreferences.pngpng soundpreferences.png manage 29 K 13 May 2013 - 07:55 JohnBland Gnome Sound Preferences Input
soundpreferences2.pngpng soundpreferences2.png manage 37 K 13 May 2013 - 07:55 JohnBland Gnome Sound Preferences Output
vidyodevices.pngpng vidyodevices.png manage 40 K 13 May 2013 - 08:02 JohnBland Vidyo devices tab
Topic revision: r13 - 17 Feb 2017, JohnBland
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