Do-it-yourself Linux

Since we provide Linux-systems, the support for DIY (do-it-yourself) Linux is limited to providing dynamic network-addresses through DHCP, for the MAC-address of your computer.

Regrettably we are not staffed to spend any time on your DIY-system, let alone the tens of DIY-systems at, nor are our colleagues at where hundreds of DIY-systems live. We support Research and Education, not Playgrounds and Sandboxes.

In fact, this is all we need to tell but there are some implications that seem not yet to be clear, which are highlighted below.

If, in spite of all the arguments on this page, you do decide to install your own system, please let us know by mail that you are doing so, and on wich machine. We can then make note of the fact in our administration.

My network-connection is suddenly broken

In case of exploits, this is not as suddenly as you experience. The exploit has already been running for hours, network-administrators have been trying to reach us and we can only spend a few minutes on trying to reach you, before we disconnect the network outlet. Also note that you are not the first to explain to us that you will keep your system up to date.

This tough measure often raises questions about the "ownership" of the network but for some reason never raises the question whose time is already wasted on this incident and will be wasted on future incidents.

I want a fixed IP-address

Fixed IP-addresses are indeed convenient to provide services. But such addresses are mostly requested for services that are already available on standard systems. That is, in the best case. We have also seen DIY-systems that run services that the requestor did not need, did not know about and were used improperly if not exploited, giving rise to complaints that consume our time.

I want service x from server y

You mostly already have, on the standard Linux systems.

In fact, you are asking to bypass the first steps:

  • Show that it is needed for your Research or Education
  • We will try to make it available on existing systems
  • Else we will setup a new system

before the last one that you are now asking for:

  • Else we will stretch services for your DIY-system

This procedure exists because we prefer to spend our time on maintaining systems and configurations that are known to be needed, instead of maintaining correspondence, (network)-administration or further-reaching support for configurations of which the necessity for Research or Education has not yet been shown.

There are no services for DIY-Linux but there is a make-shift answer to some frequently asked questions:

How to access my homedirectory

Do you mean your Windows-homedirectory or your Linux-homedirectory?

How to access my Windows-homedirectory

smbclient //winfiler/account -W TUE -U account

How to access my Linux-homedirectory

  • smbclient //vf-win/HOME -W TUE -U windows_account_name
  • cd linux_account_name

Note that //vf-win/HOME/linux_account_name does not work. It is a directory, not a share, and the fileserver does not run Samba which would bridge the subtle difference transparently for you.

How to access my homedirectory through NFS

On your DIY-system, you are not allowed to.

Can't print to printers in /etc/printcap

To be precise, you cannot print directly on those printers from your DIY-system, as you can't from standard Linux-systems. Maybe you could on some old printers but they will be closed or replaced and than closed.

How to print ( until early 2015 )

We currently have the following proposals:

How to print a file with smbclient

Using your Exchange-account (including guest-accounts):

smbclient //winp3/printer -W TUE -U account -c 'print -' < file

When using smbclient (present data to winp3 through the smb protocol) you need to provide a file as if it were already post-processed by printer-specific drivers, that is:

  • the filetype is suitable for the printer
  • Most of our printers understand postscript but not all of them understand pdf.
  • already include directives for the desired options such as:
    • duplex printing
    • paper tray selection
    For printers that do understand postscript, you can look for filters to insert a directive for duplex printing.

If your password is not accepted, check that you are not currently locked out, for example by bad attempts.

To prevent repeatedly entering your password, you can setup a kerberos ticket and use the -k option.

How to print a file on a remote Linux-system for general use.

The cedar system is chosen as example.

  • Request a Unix-account
  • sftp your file to cedar


  • For printing from the commandline
    • ssh
    • lpr -o sides=two-sided-long-edge file
    • lpr -o sides=one-sided file

    The default is sides=two-sided-long-edge on most printers.

  • For printing pdf files using a document viewer such as evince:
    • ssh -Y
    • evince file.pdf
    • File -> Print...
      There you can choose a printer and printer options, such as:
      • Duplex printing
      • Paper tray selection

If sftp complains about a protocol error it means to say that it does not like chatty login-procedures. Check to make sure that ssh does not output anything before the prompt.

How to avoid the clumsy sftp on cedar

ssh lpr -P printer < file

If you do not like to type your password for each printjob you can use public-key authentication. To summarize, this requires a private-public pair on your Linux-system:


which you can create by:

ssh-keygen -t dsa

See your systems manual pages for more instructions.

Yesterday my DIY-system could reach port x on server y

Sorry, today it can't. Maybe we made a mistake yesterday but we never advertised the service. Even the proposals on this page are just proposals, no promises for the future.

But it has been working for years

The famous old "right of way".

Sorry, services sometimes need to be closed for security reasons. Users of standard Linux-systems will be informed in time and provided with work-arounds. We can't afford the time to run parallel-procedures for DIY-systems.

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