Computer Support - Physics and Astronomy - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Applications Support

If you are unable to find what you are looking for in these support pages please email the ICT Service Desk at as your first point of contact. Be sure to include your name, room number, and best time to reach you with your request.

Linux Applications


There are several methods for installing software on a Linux computers.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy makes use of several types of Linux. The current standard is to use Sciecntific Linux a Redhat Enterprise Linux derivative. Also supported are Fedora, CentOS, Mandriva and Ubuntu Linux.

For the Redhat varieties of Linux you can use the "pirut" tool to add/remove software. "pup" is the standard tool for obtaining the latest updates off the internet.

  • From the Applications menu select "Add/Remove Software" or "System tools --> Software Updater" to update the system.
  • If you are not logged in as the root user you will be prompted for the root password.
  • This tool will give you several options for installing and managing software.

You can use the "drakconf" tool for those with Mandriva installed.

  • From the command line run "drakconf"
  • If you are not logged in as the root user you will be promted for the root password.
  • Select "Software Management"
  • This tool will give you several options for installing and managing software.

Many packages are provided for in the .rpm format which can be installed only by the root user.

  • rpm -ivh package.i386.rpm is a typical install command. It is recommended to use the upgrade command to avoid having multiple versions of software installed where not necessary.
  • rpm -Uvh package.i386.rpm is used to update an existing package to a more recent version, or install a new package without conflict with existing packages.
  • rpm -e package.i386.rpm is used to remove packages.

Some packages come as self installing packages which should be made executable before running. You may need to be the root user to make a system wide install, otherwise it will be accessible just to you.

  • chmod u+x package.bin to make the package executable
  • ./package.bin to run the program in the directory you are in. The initial ./ is important.

Some programs need to be complied from source code and then installed and assistance should be sort when doing this for the first time. Many good webpages exist detailing what is need to be done when installing from source and usually the package will have a INSTALL file with instructions detailing the steps needed.

Windows Applications


If you want a software package installed on your computer please first have a look at the Control Panel to see if it is available for installation from the network.

  • Goto Start -> Control Panel
  • Double click "Add or Remove Programs"
  • Click "Add New Programs", this will display a list of software packages available from the network.
  • Click the program you want to install
  • Click "Add"

Linux access under windows


If you want to gain access to your linux desktop under windows you will need to use cygwin. This program provides an interface to the department linux servers and also provides some linux programs which will run in windows. For instructions on how to use cygwin click here.

VMware Player

Recent developments in PC technology and virtualisation now allow for multiple "virtual PCs" to be run on a single physical PC. We have available a Linux virtual machine run under VMware Player which can be run on any recent Windows or Linux PC with much of the Departments software pre-installed for use. For further information on this please contact the Departments' IT Support group.

  • Department of Physics and Astronomy
    University of Canterbury,
    Private Bag 4800,
    Christchurch 8140,
    New Zealand.
    Phone: +64 3 364 2523
    Fax: +64 3 364 2469
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