remote access/using ssh

If you want to connect to the CS computers from your dorm room or home computer, you will need to use an ssh client, which stands for secure shell.

The secure shell client is probably already installed on your computer (see below for more details), but you’ll need to first open a terminal window. On Macs, search for the Terminal application. On Windows you can either use the PowerShell or install Putty (see below). On chromebooks I think you need to install the Secure Shell extension.

Once you have a terminal window open, type the following command, replacing uname with your username:

ssh -Y

For example, if your username is csmajor1, then type:

ssh -Y

Note: the first time you connect with ssh it will ask “are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)?”, like this:

ssh -Y   
The authenticity of host ' (' can't be established.
ECDSA key fingerprint is SHA256:KDki/m7vRcdU4J99pfUd2a9dQ+xEbXR4ERZx4gW7gwU.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)?

Answer “yes” to this question (assuming the fingerprint matches!) and your computer will store that key fingerprint so it knows it is always connecting to the correct computer.

Zach Palmer wrote an awesome Accessing the Swarthmore Computer Science Network Remotely with SSH guide that has lots of details and screenshots. Please look through that if you are having trouble using ssh to connect to the CS computers.

Windows without powershell

If you don’t have powershell on your windows computer, you can download an ssh client called putty. See Zach’s SSH guide or our putty help page for details on installing putty.

Chromebook ssh install

If you have a chromebook, I think you need the Secure Shell extension.

I don’t have a chromebook to test this on, but I think you just need to enter a username (e.g., csmajor1), a hostname (e.g.,, or any lab computer name), and a port (22).

Here’s a TechRepublic page with an example.


If you intend to run a program on the CS computers that opens a new window back to your computer (e.g., a graphics window, a browser, etc), you’ll need to install extra software to allow that.

for MacOSX

You will need to install X11 (XQuartz) for Mac. Once you have xquartz installed it should start automatically when needed. You may have to quit (Command-q) your Terminal app and restart it.

for Windows

You will need Xming. See the bottom of our putty help page for info on getting xming to work with putty.

for Chromebooks

Not sure for chromebooks…still looking for info on this.

See also:

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