MathLAN Summer Updates

What is MathLAN?

MathLAN is the Linux environment that has been designed to meet the teaching and research needs of Grinnell’s students and faculty. There are around 180 workstations that as well as a few servers that manage the workstations or provide software or platforms to the workstations.

Who uses MathLAN?

MathLAN services and workstations are primarily used by students and faculty from the CS and Math departments, but there are MathLAN users throughout campus.

What has changed on MathLAN?

FastX xwindows emulator

  1. Direct your browser to
  2. Log in with your Grinnell College username and password.
  3. Click Launch Session
  4. Select XFCE
  5. Click Launch
  6. Learn more at

Authentication (and soon authorization) handled by FreeIPA and Active Directory

No longer will users log in with a separate MathLAN username/password. Logins now use Grinnell College network credentials.

What issues might users encounter?

Login problems typically boil down to one of three issues:

  • Account issue (wrong password, account lockout)
    • Can the user log into other College resources with the same login (email, PCs, Macs)?
    • Has the account been locked out due to failed password attempts?
    • Has the user left a space in front of their username when logging in?
    • Has the password field reset while they were typing their password.

    Resolution: Correct password issue by resetting password, unlocking account, removing whitespaces, or slowing down.

  • Machine misconfiguration (not fully enrolled in IPA, not applying correct IDViews)
    • Does the login screen stall for a few seconds then return to a blank login screen?
    • Can you log into the machine via ssh?

    Resolution: Put in a ticket and be sure to include the hostname of the machine. Mike will have to handle it.

  • Home directory issue (home directories not mounted, incorrect permissions)
    • Does the login screen turn to black for a moment, then return to a blank login screen?
    • Does it happen on a single machine, or every machine?
    • If you log into the machine via ssh do you receive an error such as Could not chdir to home directory /home/connerms: No such file or directory

    Resolution: If home directories are not mounted, have the user reboot the machine. If a reboot doesn’t bring the home directories back, or it appears to be another issue, put in a ticket that includes the username and the hostname.