Once you know where your workstation is, you can log in using your QOL credentials - student/staff number and password. The first time you log on the computer will create a local home directory (
/home/studentno) for your files. We allocate around 150GB for home directories, and these are local to the computer - if you log onto another system you'll get a fresh empty home directory. We back up the home areas on a nightly basis to a remote server and keep a week of copies.
On first login you'll be run though a basic setup wizard - you can skip through the defaults on everything.
We are running the Fedora 26 Linux distro and use the GNOME desktop environment with some tweaks to make it a little more familiar to people familiar with Windows or macOS. By default your desktop looks like this.
In the bottom left corner we have a 'Gnome' menu which functions pretty much as you should be used to from the Windows Start menu. There is a list of application categories, and icons on the left act as shortcuts to favourite directories.
You can search for applications by typing their name in the search bar at the top of the menu.
Along the bottom of the menu are icons for various functions, the most important of which are those for logging out and locking the screen. If you mouse-over the icons a popup will explain their function.
Beside the Gnome menu we have icons for the default 'favourite' applications - Firefox, the GNOME File Manager, and the GNOME Terminal. Most of the science applications you use will involve using the Terminal, so plan on getting used to using it!
The bar running along the bottom of the screen acts like the macOS Dock, but with some tweaks.
As on Windows 10, if you drag a window to the left or right side of the screen the window will fill that half of the display. If you drag the window to the top of the display it will switch to full-screen mode. Dragging the window down, or towards the centre, will return it to its original size and position.
You can also do this from the keyboard. Pressing the Windows (aka Super) key plus ← or → will make the window fill that side of the screen; Super+↑ will switch to full screen; Super+↓ reverts to the original state.
Pressing Super-Tab will cycle through the running applications. Applications with multiple open windows show a pop-up preview of all their windows.
You can cycle through the windows of the currently focussed application by pressing Super-` (that's the 'reverse' quote, usually paired with the tilde [~] key).
GNOME provides virtual desktops, which are a way to organize your windows according to task. You can have one desktop for editing code, another for running it, another to check your email, and maybe another for your social media.
If you tap the Super key (or send the mouse to the top left corner of the screen) you get taken to the 'Activities view' which shows all windows associated with the current desktop, including the minimised ones. To the right of this display you will see a side bar with the virtual desktops - the system is configured to show four by default. You can click on a desktop to switch to it, or drag a window to another desktop.
Finally, at the top of the screen, you will see a search box - if you type there you can search for applications and launch them.
You can switch virtual desktop using the keyboard by pressing Super+PageUp to switch to the desktop above the current one, or Super+PageDown to switch to the desktop below. A popup will indicate your position in the stack of virtual desktops.
If you're familiar with GNOME then you may not like some of the changes we've made. If you run the TweakTool you can disable the extensions we've installed, or reconfigure them. Obviously we don't recommend this for people not comfortable in GNOME!