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Debathena Landing Page

Debathena as a release is not longer available
As of 2022:
  • The Debathena cluster release (based on Ubuntu 14.04) no longer functions and the clusters have been shuttered since the pandemic.
  • The athena.dialup service is running Ubuntu 18.04 with a custom list of vendor packages.
  • Community members are often successful at installing vendor packages such as OpenAFS on Ubuntu 20.04 to obtain Athena-like functionality.

On this page:

What is Debathena?

Debathena is Athena's latest client software. It is the technology powering [Athena Workstations] running Ubuntu Linux, as well as hundreds of Debian and Ubuntu desktops and laptops across MIT, by providing Athena workstation software via Debian packages and repositories.

On your personal computer, installing Debathena will give you easy access to the software and files in Athena AFS lockers, as well as to standard Athena commands and utilities. You can also install the set of packages for a private workstation or server with Athena accounts, or choose any set of of packages in between.

Debathena was created by SIPB , MIT's student computing group, and is now a collaboration between SIPB and IS&T , the central IT department. Since 2009, Debathena has been the standard Athena release, powering the [Athena Workstations] in Athena clusters and Athena Quickstations as well as IS&T's athena.dialup service.

Benefits and Key Features

  • Provides a vast collection of third-party software, including MATLAB, Maple, and Mathematica.
  • Easy access to the AFS filesystem for personal and group file storage.
  • Public computer labs (Athena clusters) located throughout the MIT campus.
  • Debathena is the current version of Athena.

How to Obtain

To download the Athena software, visit the IS&T Athena page.

Before installing Debathena

  1. Choose a metapackage to install
    Debathena provides various levels of Athena functionality through different metapackages, and each metapackage comes with different levels of support. Some metapackages are better suited for certain hardware configurations than others. If you are unsure of which metapackage to install, see Which Debathena metapackage should I install?
  2. Become familiar with the command line
    The primary mode of interaction with Debathena, including its installation, is via the command line (shell). If you are not already familiar with the command line, there are several resources available:
    1. Unix for Mac OS X Users tutorial offered by LinkedIn Learning . MIT faculty, students, staff and affiliates have full access to the course materials. See LinkedIn Learning (formerly Landing Page for more details.
    2. Working with the Command Line
  3. Become familiar with Athena
    Athena is MIT's UNIX-based campus-wide academic computing facility. If you don’t know how to use Athena, we recommend reading Getting Started with Athena.
  4. Subscribe to our announcement list
    Before installing Debathena, please subscribe to our announcement list, so that we can send you announcements about changes in the project and important security upgrades. This list is very low-traffic, receiving 2-3 messages per semester at most. You can subscribe using WebMoira (authentication required).

Installing Debathena

How to Use

Troubleshooting and FAQ's

Certificates on Athena



Internet and Web Browsing


See Also

Have Questions or Still Need Help?

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members

Last Modified:

May 31, 2022

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