Particle physics computer support

New users should read this

The Computing Model

Most users have PCs on their desks running Microsoft Windows. These are used to run office applications such as email and document preparation, They are also used to run the connection program Exceed to allow connection to the physics computing servers which mostly run the Linux flavour of the Unix operating system. It is from here that most physics related computing within the sub department takes place. From both Unix and Widows users can access data and computing resources around world using the internet.

Getting Started

  1. Try to get to know the Computing Support Staff. They should be able to help with any initial problems you may have.
  2. You will need accounts on both Windows and Unix.
  3. If you are familiar with the basics of computing, then look at the other topics on this page.
    1. Or else, for a step by step introduction to both Windows and Unix see the Introductory Computing Manual. The manual also covers basics in such areas as printing as well as more advanced ones such as program development.However this manual is very dated now so if unclear contact IT Support.

Graduate Student Lectures (most are given in Michaelmas term)

Please check this years lecture timetable for details.

The Computing Facilities

Introduction to Python and pyROOT

A C++ Course may be given, details of the 2015 course are below.

C++ Course

The C++ course will provide generic skills training in C++. C++ is widely used and a complex language that a great number of students in HEP traditionally need to use at some point in their DPhils. As C++ also contains most of the concepts used by other programming languages, a good grounding in C++ should reduce the learning curve for other languages. The course focuses on basic language and syntax training in the first day and the more advanced object orientated concepts in the second.

Day one of the course is optional and no familiarity with C of C++ is assumed. Day 2 is recommended to all. Students familiar with C only need attend the second day. Students completing the course will have gained a basic grounding in:

  • Overview and concepts in C++
  • Creating your first program
  • Basic control flow
  • Logical bit-wise operators
  • Introduction to functions (creating a function)
  • Classes and objects
  • Arrays and container classes
  • Pointers
  • Advanced functions (overloading, passing arrays and best practices)
  • Inheritance and polymorphism

The course examples are contained in a tar file examples and slides. The course uses the eclipse IDE which is cross-platform, this avoids the complexities of managing headers sources and libraries but is an important topic in itself. The Makefile course is designed to teach how to manage this yourself. It is no longer given formally, but can be found here:

Listed below are some past lectures on programming and analysis by Nick West:

Application Overview ppt pdf
Analysis Tools ppt pdf
Good Fortran ppt pdf
OO Concepts ppt pdf
PAW ppt pdf
ROOT ppt pdf

Please Note:-
The sole function of this short computing lecture course is to help new postgraduate students in PP exploit the local computing facilities effectively. As the computing environment is dynamic, the contents of this course is kept under constant review, in consultation with its intended audience.

If you have any comments about these lectures PLEASE email:

Who looks after what?

Name Main function Room Phone Email address
Russell Allcock Backups, Archives, Consumables, Windows system installation and Audit 73485 667
Vip Davda Unix Systems Administration & Grid support 73389 661
Pete Gronbech Head of Physics IT, GridPP Project Manager 72233 662a
John Harris Windows Systems Manager 73485 667
Chris Hunter Network manager for Physics 73501 663
David Newton Network Support 73501 663
Matthew Clifford-Smith Linux IT Officer 73389 661
Richard Smith Windows Support, Laptop Support 73485 667
Stig Topp-Jorgensen Online System Development 73506 662

Useful Links

Remote Access

In order best to access the Windows servers in Physics, you first of all need an Internet connection. We recommend using a Broadband service for this; BT, Virgin and many other providers will allow you to access the Internet from Home for a set monthly fee.

Once that is done, you can connect to physics in a number of ways:

  • simple terminal type access to host computers such as pplxintn, use the putty program to ssh.
  • X terminal access to host computers such as pplxintn using Exceed (tunnel via ssh or VPN, as Normal X windows access is blocked in the firewall)
  • file transfer to/from hosts and Windows servers using SFTP
  • All Physics email is now on the University Nexus365 service.
  • run applications on the Windows Terminal Server using either a Web interface or TS Client.

However, for security reasons there are some services which are not available by default. These include access to printers and restricted internal areas of the web.

If you want transparent access to these facilities, you will need to create a VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection to Physics. For information on how to do this, see Establishing a Secure Connection using VPN (Virtual Private Networking)


It is very important that users choose a good password. It is possibly better to think of it as a passphrase ie Think of a short sentance such as "I promise to use a very good password in 2020!" and use the first letter of each word making Iptuavgpi2020! your password. This password is easy to remember and yet very hard to crack.

Support Queries