Linerva, the former SIPB Public Linux Dialup

Effective immediately, Linerva is being retired, to be replaced by IS&T's similar service (available via ssh or web).


On January 25, we announced the imminent retirement of the Linerva service. Our goals with the Linerva project were primarily to provide a Linux-based dialup for general use to the MIT community. Since IS&T's athena.dialup has been running Debathena on Ubuntu for a few years now, this goal is complete and provided by IS&T's full-time server operations team. athena.dialup is a pool of servers currently running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS codename "Precise", 64-bit.

On January 29, Linerva crashed with a kernel BUG in OpenAFS. We were unable to recover the running system. We had been planning to retire Linerva anyway in the next few days and were already in our outage window, so rather than restore service we decided to leave Linerva access disabled.

But does support...?

We have been working with IS&T over the last year to ensure that athena.dialup provides a similar experience to Linerva. Features of Linerva that are also supported by athena.dialup include:

athena.dialup is a pool of several servers: or, using screen on athena.dialup

Unlike Linerva, the athena.dialup name refers to several servers. If you want to leave processes such as screen or tmux running on athena.dialup and then reconnect to them, you need to remember which machine you were using. If sshing into athena.dialup displays text like joeuser@department-of-alchemy:~$ (or running hostname displays department-of-alchemy), in the future you should ssh to instead of For web access, you should use instead of

Occasionally, IS&T will change the machines serving dialup traffic. When this happens, you will need to switch to a different hostname.

What if athena.dialup is missing a package I needed?

If there is software that you would like installed on athena.dialup (that is available in the Ubuntu package archives), please email to request that it be installed. We've attempted to ensure that most software has already been transferred, but some programs may have been missed.

Can I use athena.dialup without delegating my tickets?

Ordinarily, you should access athena.dialup from Debathena machines by typing ssh -K athena.dialup does not ordinarily accept logins without delegating tickets, in order to ensure that it can read the files in your home directory. To always delegate tickets without requiring passing -K, see the MIT Knowledge Base. athena.dialup also supports using ssh public key authentication; contact for details about how and when to do that.

Can I still use Linerva? What if I had state on Linerva?

For the moment, Linerva is not available for general usage, though we are considering what if any role running a similar dialup has in SIPB's future.

If you had running processes on Linerva, they were unfortunately killed in the outage, so regaining access will not help you get any state (like files you were editing or BarnOwl sessions) back. Some programs, such as vim, store changes automatically; editing a file you had open in vim on athena.dialup should give you an opportunity to recover your changes.

If you had files in /tmp/ or /var/tmp/ that you would like to copy off of Linerva, please contact for assistance.

Other known concerns