Research Computing >> Software >> Terminal emulators


MS Windows users need terminal emulation software to connect to skew5 and other Unix hosts. There are three different types of terminal emulators, depending on the protocol used to connect:

Both secure shell and telnet connections provide ASCII connections, unless they are configured to do "X11 tunneling". The necessary software can be downloaded by faculty, staff and students thanks to unlimited and free-of-charge Northwestern site-licenses.

SSH connections

SSH or "secure shell" connections are the recommended method for accessing skew5, as this type of connection encrypts passwords and data, protecting your data and the network. As a matter of fact, off-campus access to skew5 can only be done by SSH. Details on connecting using SSH vary slightly depending on your operating system:

MS Windows: Secure shell server connections are available through third-party software, such as Putty, as well as other clients -- see comparison.

To use Unix applications that require a graphical user interface, users must install an X-Windows emulator.

Northwestern's Academic Technology division has a site-license for StarNet's X-Win32. The following page provides the link to the download page and instructions on how to setup the software for skew5:

X-Win32 installation

Mac OS: ssh is part of your operating system. Locate the Terminal application in your Applications > Utilities folder. Open a Terminal session and, at the prompt, type

ssh -Y

The "-Y" switch enables X11 forwarding. This allows you to run applications with a GUI (for example, xstata or matlab)

Note that some newer Mac laptops come without X11 support built-in, and in order to use the graphical user interface it is necessary to first download and install XQuartz.

Unix: All Northwestern's UNIX hosts allow secure shell server connections. The SSH protocol clients, such as the command-line tools "ssh" and "sftp" are included in most Unix and linux distributions.

Secure File Transfer Protocol (sftp)

For secure file transfers, FileZilla is a free client that provides a convenient graphical user interface on all platforms.

Telnet connections

Telnet and FTP access to skew5 have been disabled for security reasons. The telnet and ftp protocols pass user IDs and passwords in plan text over the network. Hackers are able to use sniffer programs to capture and interpret them.  Northwestern has disabled telnet connections on all email hosts.

To connect to skew5 or any of the university's e-mail servers, we recommend that you use secure shell.

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