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General information about OIT Cluster facilities

General information about the OIT computing clusters can be found in the online OIT Knowledge base article: Information on OIT's public computing facilities. If you are new to campus, check out this great (brief) introductory video for student technology at Princeton, including an introduction to the Clusters!

How does OIT decide which clusters get new computers?

Each year, OIT has sufficient funds to replace approximately 1/3 of its cluster computers. Generally, the oldest computers are replaced. OIT studies patterns of use to try to determine which clusters should be upgraded to benefit cluster users the most.

The same process is used to determine which clusters receive new printers.

Is there a lost & found?

OIT does not have a separate Lost and Found for items left in computer clusters. All found items should be brought to Public Safety. If you lost an item, you should check with Public Safety to see if anyone has turned the item in.  Public Safety is located at 200 Elm Drive, and can be called at 8-1000.

How do I find the combination to a Cluster door lock?

Contact the nearest academic, administrative or Residential College office to get a cluster door combination.

How do I request new software (or more recent versions) in OIT clusters?

Contact OIT Student Computing Services at

Can I install software on cluster computers?

The cluster computers are intended for general use. Therefore, you may install software on them as long as it does not interfere with the proper functioning of the computer for others. Security measures are in place on cluster computers to make sure that users cannot modify important system files and directories. Because of this, some software setup programs may not work. In some cases, installing the software to your network drive (Central File Server) may alleviate these problems.

As noted in the Guidelines for computer use, you may not reserve a cluster computer for only your use, so there is no way to guarantee that the computer on which you install a program will be available to you. Also note that it may be illegal for you to install your software on more than one computer. The licensing agreement for your software will provide more information.

Computers in the clusters are re-imaged to their original, 'clean' state periodically. When this happens, any personal data left on a cluster machine will be lost and is not restorable or retrievable. To avoid this, we suggest either storing your files on your network drive or on removable media such as CD-ROM or USB memory devices. For more information on protecting your intellectual property, go to

To request new software (or more recent versions of applications) in OIT clusters, conotact OIT Student Computing Services at

Alarm in Cluster: Public Safety should respond

Alarms in Clusters should be reported first to Public Safety by calling 258-1000 so that the alarm can be reset. If the alarm is a result of someone unplugging or disconnecting a device, please have the individual reconnect the device or plug it back in.

If Public Safety cannot reset the alarm, please contact the OIT Help Desk at 8-4357 (8-HELP) to report the problem and ask for a technician to be dispatched.

How can departments use cluster software on their departmental clusters?

OIT Student Computing Services makes the cluster software image available for use on departmental cluster machines. For more information, see Cluster Image Availability.

How can I find out what the Unix name for a cluster printer is?

The Printer Status page provides the Unix names for printers.  

Can I store personal files on cluster computer hard drives?

Computers in the clusters are re-imaged to their original, 'clean' state periodically. When this happens any personal data left on a cluster machine is lost and is not restorable or retrievable.

You should store your personal, intellectual property (papers, thesis, homework, etc.) to your account on the Central File Server (a.k.a. your "H Drive").  This network location is secure and your files are always backed up.  When you log on to a cluster computer, your space on the Central File Server is automatically connected, and most of the common file locations, like the Desktop and the Documents folder, are directed to that space.

When you work with files on a cluster computer and save them to your Central File space, you can access them from your personal computer also.

To connect to your central file space from your personal Windows computer, see KB Solution 9347.  To connect to your central file space from your personal Mac OS X computer, see KB Solution 9268.