Go to the U of M home page
School of Physics & Astronomy
Physics & Astronomy Wiki


Accounts and Passwords

Most Windows computers within the School use your regular university login.

Unix and linux systems in the School use a separate Physics & Astronomy Computing account.

Physics email also uses your physics account, while our websites have different tabs to accept either type of login.

New faculty, staff and graduate students should find they have accounts set up before they arrive. We don't set up Physics accounts automatically for Physics majors, however we will set up an account under special circumstances. e.g. conducting research under a faculty supervisor. Contact (net@physics.umn.edu).

Visitors may also need arrangements made to access many of the facilities they need. Please check our guide on visitor accounts.


If you have not done so yet, please follow this new account checklist:

Physics Email

The best way to access your Physics Email account is to use a mail program such as Mozilla Thunderbird, or you can access your account via the Physics webmail system, at http://mail.physics.umn.edu. On the Unix or Linux systems, you can also use mutt. Our Physics Email page has more detailed information on accessing your email account.

By default, Physics email is forwarded to University of Minnesota Gmail.

For help with Gmail, please consult https://it.umn.edu/email-services.


Our main Unix server for shell access is physics.umn.edu; individual Linux workstations are available in several other locations. Windows and Linux workstations are available in several swing space locations - mainly for TA/Grading use:

Building Room Computers Access/Hours
PAN 482 2 Linux workstations Normal Building Hours
Shepard 196 1 Linux, 1 Windows workstation Varies
Williamson 2 in Cubicles 2 Windows workstations Normal Front Office Hours


To log in at one of our Windows workstations:

  • Press CTRL-ALT-DELETE on the workstation keyboard (all three keys together). This brings up the login screen.
  • Ensure that “Log on to” is set to SPA, or you will not be able to log in.
  • Enter your username and password (you may use TAB to move between the fields on this screen).
  • Press RETURN or click OK.


To log in at one of our Linux workstations, enter your username and password in the boxes.


You can remotely access your physics.umn.edu Unix account using SSH (Secure Shell). For those who are unfamiliar with ssh, see: SSH secure shell software.

Mailing Lists

All users are normally subscribed to some electronic mailing lists. By default, we subscribe your Physics account to receive list messages of departmental announcements.

If you would like departmental computing-related announcements (such as scheduled outages) sign up on our list server.

Usage Policies

By using our computing facilities, you agree to follow our Acceptable Use Policy. In brief:

  • Do not share your account or password with anyone.
  • Do not use your account for illegal or unethical purposes.
  • Protect your own data using appropriate file permissions
  • Protect your account and our system resources by using strong passwords.
  • Respect the privacy of others.
  • Do not attempt to circumvent security or other administrative measures on the systems.
  • Contact the system administrators (net@physics.umn.edu) with any questions.

The full policy is available here.

What happens when I leave?

Your Physics account is automatically kept active while you have a current appointment in Peoplesoft and in the Physics Directory. Once you leave the School, an account expiry system starts operation. The system will send you some automated emails warning you of the expiry. You can reply to this email to let us know your needs.

  • If you have an ongoing research relationship with faculty in the School, we can extend your account indefinitely.
  • We can also extend the expiry time by 30 days or so if you need additional time to retrieve your files, etc.
  • We can set up email forwarding to another address for you.

Your University account may get shut off shortly after leaving, for example if your contract is over. Within Physics this will affect your ability to log in to Windows computers and possibly MyPhys.

If you need continued access to either of these, there are a couple of possibilities.

  • Graduate students can sign up to a Grad999 course, which allows them to keep their InternetID's/AD account active as they are finishing up their thesis, research project, etc. There is no cost for the Grad999 course, but it can only be used to finish up their work.
  • Otherwise to keep doing research with faculty after graduation or end of contract, the department admin office can set up an affiliate appointment at 0%, which keeps all the old access intact (InternetID, email, UCard, AD account, etc.), without being on payroll.
  • A Sponsored Account is not recommended. Once created, the user then needs to call 1-HELP and ask them to change the name of the Sponsored Account to match their old account. After which everything works, however the status is now gone in PeopleSoft, and the new status is now as a guest of the U instead of an alumni.
computing/accounts/home.txt · Last modified: 2019/09/24 14:03 by sull0153