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How can I connect to the Athena dialup servers?

Effective Thursday, June 13, 2019, Duo two-factor authentication is now required to access via secure shell (SSH) or secure file transfer (SFTP/SCP).

Note: These instructions are for logging in to the Athena dialup servers to run software. If you're interested in transferring files between your computer and Athena, please see: How can I transfer files between Athena and my computer?

The primary method of connecting to the dialups is via a Secure Shell (SSH) client. SSH ensures that your password and login session are encrypted. You will need to authenticate to the SSH client, either by providing Kerberos tickets or typing your password.

Note that the instructions here will simply get you a terminal (tty) login session. You will be able to run applications which normally run entirely inside the "Terminal" window on an Athena workstation. You will not be able to run programs that spawn other windows, such as MATLAB, Evolution, Firefox, Acrobat Reader, etc. For information on running such programs on the dialups, please see our stock answer entitled [archive:How can I run X Windows applications on the dialups?]

Connecting to the dialups

  • from another Athena workstation:

    athena% ssh -K

    You will probably not be prompted for your password, as you likely have Kerberos tickets from your current login session.

  • from a web browser:

    Visit, where you can use a web-based SSH client to access the dialup servers. While this method requires no configuration, the web-based SSH client may not have some advanced terminal features.

  • from a Windows machine:

    Download the SecureCRT ssh client. It comes pre-configured with a profile called "Athena". Simply double-click on it and enter your password when prompted.

    If you're using a different SSH client, you can configure it to connect to

    Traveling? If can't obtain a certificate to download SecureCRT, or can't install SecureCRT on the computer you're using, you can use any SSH client. Though IS&T is unable to provide support for other SSH clients, many members of the MIT Community use PuTTY, a free SSH client for Windows. It comes in a standalone version (putty.exe), which does not require installation or administrative privileges to use.

  • from a Mac OS X machine:

    Download Fetch or open the "Terminal" application, which can be found in /Applications/Utilities. At the terminal prompt, type: ssh and replace username with your Athena username

    If you have installed the MIT Kerberos Extras package, from and have valid Kerberos tickets, you will not be prompted for your password.

See Also

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members

Last Modified:

August 19, 2021

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