Tutorials

How to access and begin working with your account

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In order to access an HCS group account to read email and begin setting up webpages, you will need to connect via a terminal into our servers. On most modern operating systems, this requires a terminal application. If you are using Mac OS X, you already have one: it's under Applications>Utilities>Terminal. On a Windows computer, you will need other software, which will be discussed below.

What to do at the prompt

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Once you can access your account, you will be presented with the prompt. At this prompt, you can do many many many things. For all of these, we hope to have tutorials soon.

A few basic examples of what you can do:

  • Setup a website
  • Read your group e-mail
  • Setup rules to forward email to another address
  • Transfer files from your computer or your FAS account
  • Grant/remove access from other FAS usernames
  • Setup SSH keys to simplify access (avoid the double login!)
  • Check your quota

Logging in, made simple: Setting SSH keys

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Now that you have access to your account, you may find that the double-login is holding you down. Besides being slower than a usual login, it can make transferring files between your computer and HCS more difficult because you have to work through FAS as an intermediate. However, by setting SSH keys, you will be able to securely access your HCS account from a designated computer without authenticating with FAS first! Read on to find out how to make accessing your group account as easy as one double-click.

Uploading files to start a website

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The most common use of our Linux accounts is for hosting a website. HCS provides the distinct advantage (compared to other free web-hosting solutions at Harvard) of running dynamic content technologies such as PHP, MySQL, and Ruby on Rails. With these frameworks, your student group can run most of the cool web technologies out there today: wiki's, bulletin boards, blogs, community-managed content... the possibilities are innumerable.

Managing your HCS email

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Every HCS group account comes with an email address, group-name@hcs.harvard.edu. You will probably want to check this regularly, as it is the way that HCS account services will contact you, and it is also a convenient address for your group to advertise because you won't have to change it from year to year even if your management changes hands.

How to set up virtual hosting with HCS

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If you buy a domain from a domain registrar, HCS will host the domain for you so that you can use your domain as the address for any of the pages on your website. We can even set up multiple domains (each of which is called a "virtual host") on your account.

One of our members has created a tool that makes it easy for you to set up your own domain.

There are some things that you need to bear in mind before you start:

  • HCS does not sell domains, and does not recommend any particular domain registrar. You still are responsible for buying a domain and paying for it yearly.

Install WordPress on your HCS account

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This tutorial is for installing WordPress to power your entire website. You should modify the instructions accordingly if you wish to install WordPress in a subdirectory (in particular, don't remove your existing web directory and extract WordPress to web/wordpress or some other directory).

Before you install WordPress, you will need a MySQL database. If you requested one when your account was created, you can find its password in an email that was sent to your group account's inbox. If you do not have an account, please request one by emailing help@hcs.harvard.edu.