Aim is a general purpose linux server used by FICT students and staff for teaching and research.


Mercury has been upgraded to CentOS-6. Much effort has been put into making sure it remains compatible with the old CentOS-4 configuration. However, some things are necessarily different or may have been missed so if you have problems, please contact the Service Desk.

Main issues to be aware of:

  • PHP is now version 5.3
  • .htaccess requires have a new syntax


Detailed help on changing your password is available.

Your mercury password can be changed by logging in to mercury and running the passwd command. You will be prompted for your current password (the one you used to log in with) and a new password. If the new password is acceptable then you will be prompted to enter it again to confirm it.

Your new password will be checked to make sure it is a 'good' password. As a guide you should make sure it contains some text and some numbers. A mix of upper and lower case text, some numeric digits and some punctuation (uppercase digits) are even better. Your password must be at least 6 characters long but 8 or more is recommended.

You may also be required to change your password on your first login. To do this you must have a controlling terminal (tty) which basically means 'use putty'. When you log in you will enter the change password procedure the same as if you had run passwd from the command line (see above).

Where are my old files?

Students accounts which are over quota at the end of semester may have files removed to reduce usage to the default quota limits. Any files which have been removed will be stored for the first few weeks of the following semester. If you require access to your old files please contact the Service Desk.

If you were not over quota then all your old files will still be in your home directory. Students should remove files they no longer need to ensure that they have enough space to store files required for the new semester. It is recomended that students create a sub directory per subject to store subject specific files. This makes managing old files easier for both students and the technical staff.

Web Pages

See Information on mercury web pages

Code Repositories


Access to remote CVS repositories is achieved using ssh. There is no pserver support.

You can get windows cvs clients from


See Information on SubVersion


See Information on GIT

Web Applications


See Information on MantisBT


See Information on Joomla


We do not provide telnet to any FICT servers. Please use SSH as a replacement for telnet.


We do not provide FTP access to any FICT servers. For anonymous downloads please use HTTP. For authenticated transfers please use SCP.


SSH is a modern replacement for Telnet. We allow SSH1 and SSH2 connections. The recommended ssh client for windows is PuTTY version 0.52 or later. You can download putty from

Connecting via SSH

SSH connections can be made from anywhere on the internet.

Connecting using SSH keys

Rather than supplying a password every time you log in, you can use a key to log into mercury. See How to set up ssh keys


SCP is a file copy protocol which uses SSH as its transport. PuTTY also has a command line SCP client for windows called pscp. There is also a GUI application called WinSCP which you can get from


Samba connectivity uses encrypted passwords. Your user name and password are the same as for ssh. Before you can use samba, you must log in to mercury and change your password.

Team Accounts

If you have a team account then you can use this for file storage. The files will be available to all members of the team.

To access the team account, you must log in with your own individual account.

Note: You can not log in to the team account, not even with the team password.

If you do need to run programs as the team account then please contact the Service Desk for assistance.

You can find out the name of your team with the



You can access the team directory by changing into the team account like this

cd ~hitxxxx_nn

If you want to make the team files easily visible from your home directory you can create a symbolic link like this

ln -s ~hitxxxx_nn

Temporary Storage in /tmp

/tmp may be used for temporary file storage. Files will automatically be deleted after 240 hours (10 days). If it becomes excessively full then we might need to remove some files sooner. All important files should be stored in your home directory.


SUN JDK versions are installed under /usr/java/jdk<version>. Note that /usr/java is in violation of the FHS (Filesystem Hierarchy Standard - Section 4.1 "Large software packages must not use a direct subdirectory under the /usr hierarchy.") and will hopefully change in the future. It is recommended that if you use java that you do not hard code the path but set your path appropriately or use another environment variable.

GNU Compiler Collection (gcc)

There are two versions of the gcc available on mercury. The default version is 3.4.6. The alternate version is gcc 3.2.3. To invoke this version you need to run gcc32 or g++32. Most make files and configure scripts will allow you specify which compiler to use by setting the CC parameter. Note that the output of the two compilers is not necessarily binary compatible and should not be mixed.


GNAT 2009 (or later) is available but requires a modification to your path:

export PATH=/opt/gnat-2009/bin:/opt/marteos/marte/utils:$PATH

For students enrolled in HIT3047, this can be activated by the command


You must use it every time you log in. This will also give you access to the MaRTE commands (which start with m, eg mgnatmake).

Ada05 and GNAT documentation is in /opt/gnat-2009/share/doc/gnat/html/arm05.html and /opt/gnat-2009/share/doc/gnat/html/gnat_rm.html

links /opt/gnat-2009/share/doc/gnat/html/arm05.html
links /opt/gnat-2009/share/doc/gnat/html/gnat_rm.html

This documentation is also available from the Start menu in FICT Windows labs

MaRTE documentation is in /opt/marteos/marte/marte_ug.html

links /opt/marteos/marte/marte_ug.html


All users have process limits and filesystem quotas enforced. This is to prevent any one user from consuming all the resources and preventing other users from accessing the system. If you feel that you need a limit increased, please contact the CSO's.


All accounts on mercury have filesystem quotas. For most users these are group quotas. Please see the section User Private Group (below) for more information on group quotas.

Students who need more space should contact their convenor in the first instance. Staff should contact the service desk.

User Private Groups

User Private Groups or UPG is a way of managing filesystem access and quotas. Under this scheme, a user is the sole member of a group which has the same name (and UID) as their username. The umask is set to give group read and write permissions by default. The advantage of using the group is that a shared directory can be assigned the g+s permission bit and all files created under that directory will have the group set to the group owner of the directory. When combined with group quotas this means that users can make files contribute to the teams group quota instead of their personal private group quota simply by creating the files in the team directory. It is also possible for a user to change the group of a file to any group that they are a member. This means a user can manage their files without requiring help from the superuser or using the cto script.

Users should remember that to check a group quota you need to supply the -g parameter:

$ quota -g

When you log into, the quota command will be set to an alias which will show all your group quota information.

Time Limits

Some subjects have process run time limits. This is to prevent run away processes from causing problems for other users. These are normally only soft limits can can be adjusted if required.


If you use gvim with syntax highlighting it will attempt to guess your terminal background colour and adjust the highlighting accordingly. You can change the colour scheme by issuing the command set background=dark. You could add this to your ~/.exrc file so it is run every time you start vi.

If vi gets your background colour wrong is is probably because you are using an xterm with a black background. By default some versions of PuTTY will do this. Read the section above on ssh for more info on PuTTY.

You can also turn syntax highlighting off with the command syntax off. You could also unalias vi which will stop you from running vim.


Note: can only send email to other hosts if both the sender (From:) email address and the recipient (To:) email address are valid.

Note: can not receive mail from other hosts. If you require email for a project, please contact to discuss the available options.


Mozilla is not available on mercury. If you require a web browser please use lynx, wget or a browser on your local machine.

Operating System

CentOS-6 Enterprise Linux amd64(x86_64).

CentOS-6 is an Enterprise Linux product similar to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.


mercury is a Compaq DL380G5 with 4GB RAM and dual 2GHz P4 CPU with dual cores. It has a dual gigabit network connection. Further information

If you have any questions or problems with mercury please contact the service desk via email at or via phone on (03)92145000