Getting started on Linux

X11 System

The X11 system should already be installed with your Linux distribution. Generally starting a simple x11 program like xclock or xterm should open a new window. If that is the case, you're all set up. If not, check your distribution's installation procedures.

SSH Configuration

SSH should come with your distribution out of the box. It is strongly suggested to set up password protected key pairs for SSH connections together with an SSH agent to store the keys in memory. You can check how to do this here.

NCI Open OnDemand Service(OOD)

NCI's Open OnDemand Service (OOD) is an easy way to connect to NCI facilities from desktop computers. OOD provides a Linux desktop in a browser and access to JupyterLab, running on NCI's cloud

Check NCI's OOD documentation for the current installation and setup instructions [


  • Access to NCI's /g/data filesystem
  • Conda and Matlab (see NCI documentation) available
  • Doesn't require a powerful home computer
  • When viewing graphical windows, connection can be faster than via X11 on slow networks


  • Can not access /scratch


Conda is the preferred system to maintain consistent python environments. You can find installation instructions on

Integrated Development Environment

It is suggested that you have an integrated development environment on your system. Free IDEs that we can recommend are Atom (which is open source) and VSCode which is maintained by Microsoft.