Campus Life


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

Did the combination to the Athena clusters change?

Yes; the combo to the Athena clusters changes every October. To find the new combo, you can login to a quickstation or a dialup and type

athena% tellme combo

Other things tellme supports are tellme root, for the root password, and tellme why.

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 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 through 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 will not add the locker to your path.

SIPB’s Debathena ( eliminates the need for attach -- whenever you try to access (cd, ls, etc.) a locker through /mit/lockername, it is automatically mounted there. Debathena is the basis for the upcoming Athena 10 release, and you can install it on your own Debian GNU/Linux or Ubuntu machine.

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% add outland

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 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 10/5/2008 at 2:54 PM EDT (18:54 UTC)

Weather: Cloudy

Temp: 55 F (13 C)

Humidity: 63% → Dewpoint: 43 F (6 C)

Visibility: 10 mi

Barometer: 30.25 inHg

Wind: S 5 mph

athena% weather -f bos


Wednesday and Wednesday night: Mostly → clear. Highs in the upper

60's. Lows in the upper 40's.

Thursday: Mostly sunny. Highs around → 70.

Thursday night: Cloudy. A chance of → showers after midnight.

Patchy fog after midnight. Lows in the → lower 50's. Chance of rain

30 percent.


¶ pdftops (outland locker) — converts PDF files to postscript (for printing)

athena% pdftops filename.pdf

athena% lpr -h -Zduplex -Pprintername

¶ barnowl (barnowl locker) — Zephyr and IM client

athena% barnowl

[launches barnowl]

To ask us a question, send email to We’ll try to answer you quickly, and we can 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 website:

Locker Contents
sipb software supported by SIPB
outland software less supported and maintained by SIPB
consult Athena-related utilities maintained by OLC
gnu common Unix utilities maintained by the Free Software Foundation
abiword a fast-loading word processor
gnumeric a fast-loading spreadsheet
oofice, an office suite
games games and other fun utilities
im IM programs, such as gaim
weather the weather program
math, matlab, maple Mathematica, Matlab, and Maple software, respectively