I take classes at the University of Pittsburgh and I need to do my work in the universities linux terminal remotely. I use the command ssh usr@thot.cs.pitt.edu and I'm prompted for my password to login.

All of this works well and I know how to use simple command line arguments to navigate but Im not really clear on whats going on here since it wasnt really explained by the TA. What exactly is "thot.cs.pitt.edu" ?

When I'm entering commands and creating files etc are they being executed on my machine? Lastly when I'm logged in why am I not able to run ubuntu programs like gedit or access files that are on my computer?


SSH is short for secure shell. Its a program which allows you to access the terminal for a remote machine as though you were physically connected to it.

thot.cs.pitt.edu is the domain name of the machine you're connecting to. Its like google.com; just less memorable in your case.

The commands you execute are running on the remote machine. You cant run gedit, for example, because ssh only allows text transmission, and gedit is obviously a graphical editor. (NB, nano is a friendly command line text editor).

To access local files on the remote machine, you should look at the scp command (secure copy)

  • is "remote machine" a synonym for "server"? Also, is it possible to install a shell like unity to run on the remote machine from my laptop? – rmh52 May 14 '12 at 23:59
  • I doubt the machine you are connecting to has a graphical environment installed - however, if it does you could always look into X11 session forwarding – LinuxPS2 May 15 '12 at 1:05
  • 2
    It seems like you're a bit confused with your terminology. Firstly, yes, remote machine and server are synonymous in this case; they both mean the machines on which the commands are executed. Secondly, unity isn't a shell, it's a user interface. You can't run commands in unity. If you want to see a desktop over SSH, you could try X11 session forwarding like @LinuxPS2 said; however the point of the exercise is probably to get you familiar with using the command line on a remote machine. – jackweirdy May 15 '12 at 9:51

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