Campus Life


Want to use the software on Athena? Wondered what sorts of cool things you can do? In this column, we discuss lockers on Athena, and the things you can find in them.

What are lockers?

Lockers organize files and software on Athena and allow them to be accessed more easily. They eliminate the need to use long pathnames like /afs/, and they allow you to quickly run programs without needing to know exactly where they are located.

How do I use a locker?

The most common way to use a locker is to use the add command. This will attach the locker — make it available through /mit/lockername — and add the locker to your path. For example, to run the mplayer program in the outland locker, type:

athena% add outland

athena% mplayer

You can put a line in a text file called .environment in your home directory to add lockers automatically when you log in. Programs such as pico (terminal-based) and gedit (GUI) allow you to edit text files. For example, you may add a line such as:

add 6.001 sipb outland matlab

The second way to use a locker is the attach command. This will make a locker accessible at /mit/lockername the same way add does, but it will not add the locker to your path.

What are some common useful lockers?Is there an easy way to find out where something is located?

The whichlocker program, located in the outland locker, tells you where many programs are located, and what platforms they are available for.

athena% whichlocker mmblanche

Locker software on Athena is maintained by many different people.

Don’t run this unless you know the maintainer can be trusted.

“mmblanche” is in “consult” for linux, NT, and sun4

What cool stuff can I find in some of these lockers?

For more information about most of these programs, you can type man programname after adding the appropriate locker.

whats (sipb locker) — expands acronyms

athena% whats sb

SB - Science Baccalaureate (latin form of “Bachelors of Science”)

rolodex (sipb locker) — phone number database

athena% rolodex olc

3-4435 Athena Consulting Office (N42) (OLC)

athena% rolodex 3-7788

3-7788 Student Information Processing Board (SIPB) Office

athena% rolodex pizza

617-577-0066 Domino’s Pizza

617-523-5575 Bel Canto (Boston)


dict (outland locker) — dictionary via

athena% dict frosh

1 definition found

From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 [gcide]:

frosh \frosh\, n.; pl. {frosh}. [from freshman by shortening.]

a student during his first year in a high school, college, or university; a {freshman}. [informal]


A similar program is thesaurus in the sipb locker.

weather (weather locker) — weather conditions or forecast

athena% weather boston

Conditions at KBOS on 8/27/2007 at 4:54 PM EDT (20:54 UTC)

Weather: Mostly Clear

Temp: 71 F (21.7 C)

Humidity: 68% Dewpoint: 60 F (15.6 C)

Visibility: 10 mi

Barometer: 30.14 inHg

Wind: E 8 mph

athena% weather -f bos


Wednesday: Sunny. Patchy fog in the morning. Highs in the mid 80s.

South winds 5 to 10 mph.

Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 60s. South winds

5 to 10 mph.


To ask us a question, send email to We’ll try to answer you quickly, and we might address your question in our next column. You can also stop by our office in W20-557 or call us at x3-7788 if you need help. Copies of each column and pointers to additional information are posted on our Web site




software supported by SIPB


software less actively supported and maintained by SIPB


Athena-related utilities maintained by OLC


common Unix utilities maintained by the Free Software Foundation


a fast-loading word processor


a fast-loading spreadsheet

ooffice, an office suite


games and other fun utilities


IM programs, such as gaim


the weather program

math, matlab, maple

Mathematica, Matlab, and Maple software, respectively