Geek Question: Linux and Public Computers

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    Looks like I’m going to be working at McMurdo next summer and I’m wondering about the public computing situation. Are there any linux boxes available for use by the general population? Will the IT department let you boot their public computers off liveCDs? I’m a hobbiest programmer, but don’t have a laptop so I was wondering if there’s any hope of playing with one of my pet projects on the ice. Thanks!


    Too geeky for me. I haven’t a clue. I do seem to recall not being allowed to run unix, but I could be wrong. In fact back to the start. I’m clueless.
    Mike in McMurdo


    No public-access Linux boxes that I know of.

    Booting off a CD is… not advisable.

    Can you buy a cheap laptop before deployment?


    So do you really need to bring a computer? No general use computers for email and what have you? Thanks! Bing


    Mike – Just crossing my fingers and hoping your recollection is wrong! 🙂

    Glenn – Thanks for the input! I don’t think I’m going to have the cash to buy a laptop before I leave, might be able to scrounge something up from work’s junk bin and fix it up but that’s not too likely (I’m a tech at a computer repair place.) A big chunk of what I’m working with is fancy GUI stuff, so it needs to be a local machine since I’d bet the connection down there is too high latency/low bandwidth for a remote connection. Sounds like I might just have to befriend a geek of one sort or another and use their machine…

    Bingshan – I haven’t been to the ice yet, but my impression is that there are general use computers running windows for general use. The project I’m working with would require either running a different operating system than windows (linux) or installing a bunch of development tools on a windows machine, which I’m fairly certain the IT department wouldn’t like too much.


    back in the mid 90’s they had set up about 6 machines in the unused half of the galley during winter for the population to use for email accounts. Thats the only gen use machines I know of.


    Most work centers have computers, it just depends on your department and job title. And for public computers, there is a Computer Kiosk and computer training room in the main building that houses the Galley, Store, Recreation, HR, ect.

    While having a personal computer is nice, you really don’t need one if you have a job with a good deal of computer access. That is, unless there are certain programs/games which you like to use.

    Do keep in mind that these are government computers and a government network. Security is tight and they will go after anyone who threatens the network. The reason for this is that we all have .gov addresses and it is believed that hacking in here could give access to other more interesting government computer systems.

    As for the technical questions, I’ll have to ask. I’ll have lunch with some computer geeks in a few hours.


    So I talked to some people in IT and they said that Linux is absolutely not supported nor authorized down here.

    Looks like your own computer is the only option if you want to keep up with your hobbies. 🙁


    Thanks for the info AntarcticCat! Really appreciate you getting some info straight from the source. Guess I’ll either track down a junky old laptop or just put off geeky playtime until I get back. Probably option B, playing outside is more fun anyhow 🙂


    Slartibartfast, Dell is offering an Inspiron 1200 laptop for only $499 (after rebate). 🙂

    McMurdo has eight computers in the Training Room (open for public access when classes are not being held), eight computers in a Kiosk area, two in the Coffee House, and one in the Library.

    Many people bring down their own laptops. However, they must first go through a complete security scan, and get approved by the PC Techs before being allowed to attach to the network.

    There are plenty of network plugs available in the Coffee House – just bring your own network cable. 🙂

    Slartibartfast, what job did you get for the summer? Even though I’m wintering, I’ll be taking a few weeks off, then jumping back into the chaos that is the summer season.

    And no – no Linux is allowed. Sorry.



    There are public computers at both Pole and McMurdo, but only Windows and a few Macs.

    There is no rule against personal Linux computers. All computers – work and personal – have to undergo some for of “certification” for use on the USAP network. This happens usually happens in Christchurch, resulting in a little sticker on your computers saying it’s good to go.

    What checks are made on your computer depends on the OS. For Linux there isn’t much they can do. But having your MAC address (network identifier) they can track you down quickly if they detect an issue with your computer.

    Even having your own Linux box you may not be able to do what you want. If you want to run your own web server or file server this will not meet the aceptable use policy.

    If what you want to do it write shell script or program, the public Macs might meet your need – being UNIX at heart:)


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