Fairleigh Dickinson University


Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated: May 29, 1998


  1. How do I obtain an Alpha account or renew my Alpha account ?

    You will need to bring a valid form of ID with you when submitting your account request form to one of the Computer Centers (University Hall, Dickinson, Robison Hall at Teaneck, or Dreyfuss at Madison). Valid forms of ID by account type are:

    alumnus accounts: Driver's License and FDU diploma
    other accounts : FDU ID or Driver's License

    For account request forms, you can go to one of the Computer Centers (University Hall, Dickinson, Robison Hall at Teaneck, or Dreyfuss at Madison), or you can obtain the application form through fax.

  2. How often do I need to renew my Alpha account ?

    Each individual Alpha account is good for one year. All class accounts will be deleted at the end of each semester.

    Use "check_expire" command to check the expiration date of your personal account (all but class account).

  3. My password expired. Could you send my new password to my other account ? If not, how do I obtain a new Alpha password ?

    No, it is not secure for us to give out your password through e-mail. There are two ways to get your new password.

    1. You will need to bring a valid form of ID and go to one of the Computer Centers on FDU campus (University Hall, Dickinson, Robison Hall at Teaneck, or Dreyfuss at Madison).

    2. You can call Robison Hall Computer Center at 692-2414 and fax us a valid form of your ID while holding the phone with us.

    Valid forms of ID by account type are:

    alumnus account: Driver's License and FDU diploma
    other account : FDU ID or Driver's License

  4. Is this Internet international ?

    Yes, it is. You can telnet or e-mail worldwide as long as you have the correct address.

  5. How do I connect from my PC at home to the Alpha ?

    Teaneck: dial 692-2700
    Madison: dial 443-8501

  6. How do I change my password on Alpha ?

    alpha.fdu.edu> passwd

    This command brings up the password program. You can follow the instructions to change your password.

  7. How do I find an acceptable password ? (FDU PASSWORD POLICY)

    The specific intention of these guidelines is to discourage choosing normal words as passwords. However, we recognize that a password which you cannot remember is only likely to be written down on paper, something we would prefer to avoid. There are other means of choosing memorable passwords at your disposal. For instance, you can combine the first or last letters of a group of favorite objects, say a favorite phrase from your childhood, into an unrecognizable, but for you a memorable password. Don't forget that you'll need to include some non-alphabetics just to spice things up a bit.

    A successful password change adheres to the following guidelines:

    Must contain at least 4 distinct characters with a minimum length of 8.
    May not contain: #, @, :, ^X, ^U, ^S, ^Q, DEL, BAK.
    Must contain alphabetics and non-alphabetics.
    Must not contain any 3 characters in a row of your finger information.
    A dictionary check with the characteristics:
    May not contain 3 ~ 7 sequential characters that comprise a word.
    May not contain 8 sequential characters that comprise a substring of a word.
    May not contain (sub)strings found in your .plan, .project, .signature, and .forward files.
    May not contain common data formats such as xxx-xx-xxxx and dd/mm/yy.
    May not contain common date formats such as dd-mm-yy and mmddyy.

  8. How can I find out what commands are available for me to use under the Alpha ?

    use on-line help, if no idea at all:
    alpha.fdu.edu> man -k command

    use on-line help, if you know what you want:
    alpha.fdu.edu> man [x] ( x = topic )

  9. How do I use E-mail ?

    There are two ways:

    1. pine

    alpha.fdu.edu> pine
    follow the menu instructions

    2. elm

    alpha.fdu.edu> elm
    On-line help is available by typing ? at the Command: prompt.

  10. How can I login from Alpha to VAX ?

    alpha.fdu.edu> telnet vax

  11. I am a FDU alumnus and I am out of the United States. How do I renew my Alpha account ?

    There are two steps to renew an alumnus account from out of the United States.

    1. Before expiration date (one year after you open or renew your account), send an e-mail with your fax number to help@alpha.fdu.edu to request an account request form.

    2. Send three items through fax to 201-692-2494.
      1. a completed account request form
      2. a diploma copy
      3. a passport copy with your name and photo

    If you have any question, send e-mail to help@alpha.fdu.edu with specific Subject (do not use single word "help" as Subject).

File Transfer

  1. How do I transfer a file between Alpha and VAX ?

    alpha.fdu.edu> ftp vax
    type in your username and password

    If your file is a simple text file, use "ascii", else use "bin".
    ftp> bin

    Send a file from Alpha to VAX, use "put", otherwise use "get".
    ftp> put [filename]

    Need more help, type "help"
    ftp> help

    ftp> bye

  2. How do I download files or mail from the Alpha system to my home PC ?

    1. Check your communication software on PC, see if it supports xmodem, ymodem, or zmodem. Set the software to any of them.

    2. On Alpha, type ls at Alpha prompt to see all the file names.

      set home PC to receive mode before your send the files from Alpha

      at Alpha prompt, type

      sx filename -- this will transfer file to PC using xmodem
      sb filename -- this will transfer file to PC using ymodem
      sz filename -- this will transfer file to PC using zmodem

      for more information, type man sz on Alpha prompt.

    3. To transfer mail to PC, use elm

      first save mail to the directory by typing "|" at the mail command line
      it will ask pipe to, type "cat > filename"

      If you are using pine, type E for export and filename. this will save the mail content to the filename you specified under your directory. Then follow step 1 and 2 to download the file to PC.

E-Mail using pine

  1. How do I designate a specific printer ?

    alpha.fdu.edu> pine

    -- go to setup
    -- change destination printer

  2. How can I print my mail ?

    make sure you have selected the right printer (follow the above steps), then select the mail to print

    -- to print

  3. Where is my mail saved ?

    under your home directory

  4. How can I retrieve mail from my folder ?

    alpha.fdu.edu> pine

    -- go to folder list

    hit enter to see expanded list
    select a file to open
    hit enter to open

  5. How can I attach a file to send with my message ?

    alpha.fdu.edu> pine

    -- go to compose message

    go to message text, use ^J (hit control and j keys at the same time)

  6. How do I send a message which contains an attached uuencoded file ?

    You can uuencode a file and then read it into pine to send out.
    Assume that you want to send a file called test to your friend.

    alpha.fdu.edu> uuencode test test.en > test.out
    alpha.fdu.edu> pine

    to compose message
    to read in test.out
    to send out message

    For more information about uuencode, read the man page by:
    alpha.fdu.edu> man uuencode

  7. I received a message which contains an attached uuencoded file. How do I decode it ?

    You can save the incoming mail to test and then run:

    alpha.fdu.edu> uudecode test

    to get test.en file which is identical to the original file.

    For more information about uudecode, read the man page by:
    alpha.fdu.edu> man uudecode

E-Mail using elm

  1. How do I designate a specific printer ?

    alpha.fdu.edu> elm

    -- go to options
    -- change destination printer
    -- return to index

  2. How can I print my mail ?

    alpha.fdu.edu> elm

    select the mail to print

    -- to print

  3. Where is my mail saved ?

    under the Mail directory

  4. How can I retrieve mail from my folder ?

    At the command prompt in mail type c then enter the folder name or

    -- for incoming mailbox
    -- for received folder
    -- for sent folder

  5. After I set my preference for the vi editor, why does it NOT come up in elm as my editor.

    The default editor in elm is edt, and this has to be set specifically. If you want to set the editor to vi in elm, do the following:

    alpha.fdu.edu> elm

    -- go to options
    -- set editor to vi
    -- to save
    -- to return to index

  6. I usually save mail messages in one folder, but there are too many mail messages. Is there a way that some mail messages in this folder can go directly to another folder ?

    You can use elm to quickly save all important mail messages to a mail box you like within the Mail directory. Note: type c for c)hange and s for s)ave

    make sure you are in the Mail directory
    alpha.fdu.edu> cd
    alpha.fdu.edu> cd Mail

    get into elm, and follow the following steps:
    alpha.fdu.edu> elm
    c)hange folder
    Change to which folder: received

    now mark one of your important files using the up or down arrow key

    save it to directory called important_directory
    Save message to: important_directory

  7. How can I attach a file to send with my message ?

    If you want to attach a file in elm along with your message, do the following after you finish your message. (Here I assumed that your editor is vi and the attached file name is test_file under current directory.)

    :r test2_file

    If I also want to include the file test2_file from directory play_dir.

    :r play_dir/test_file


*** disable call waiting to disallow disconnection with initializing modem ***

  1. I dialed in from home at approximately 4:30 am and the system threw me out before 5am with the message "time limit exceeded". Every time I tried to get back into Alpha, everything was fine. Why ?

    If you dial in to our system, the terminal server will log you out after being idle for 30 minutes. If you telnet to our system, there is no time limit for your login.

  2. Sometimes it becomes quite difficult getting online as the numbers are often or always busy in the evenings. Are there any other numbers I can use to access FDU ?

    When the 692-2700 (Teaneck) or 443-8501 (Madison) line is busy it will automatically hunt to the next available number. If you get a busy signal, this means all the lines are in use from both campuses.


  1. How do I print a file on Alpha ?

    alpha.fdu.edu> lpr -Pprint_queue_name filename

    Print queue names examples (partial list)

    Teaneck Campus
    uhall - Letter Writer in University Hall, UH28
    becton - DEC LP27 printer in Becton Hall B104

    Hackensack Campus
    dhall - Letter Writer in Dickinson Hall, Lab C

    Madison Campus
    madison - Printronix printer in Dreyfuss building CPU room

    Monmouth Campus
    monmouth - Line printer in Fort Monmouth

  2. How do I change the default printer on Alpha ?

    alpha.fdu.edu> setenv PRINTER [print_queue_name]

  3. How do I show my print jobs on Alpha ?

    alpha.fdu.edu> lpq -Pprint_queue_name

  4. How do I delete my print jobs on Alpha ?

    use the lpq command to find out the job_ID
    alpha.fdu.edu> lpq -Pprint_queue_name

    alpha.fdu.edu> lprm -Pprint_queue_name job_ID user_name

  5. How do I print a file from Alpha to my local printer ?

    alpha.fdu.edu> pcprint file_name

Software and Programming Languages

  1. What kind of software and languages are available on Alpha ?

    Assembler, C, C++, Fortran, Pascal, SAS, Oracle, Minitab, elm, pine, pico, gopher, lynx, tin, xmodem, ymodem, zmodem, gzip, mosaic, netscape, and SPSS.

  2. What is the compiler command for FORTRAN 77 on Alpha ?

    make sure you name a fortran program with the extension f, assume prog.f is your program

    alpha.fdu.edu> f77 -o prog prog.f
    -- prog is your executable

    alpha.fdu.edu> f77 prog.f
    -- a.out is your executable

  3. What is the command to run a FORTRAN program on Alpha ?

    run your fortran executable at the Alpha prompt, assume a.out is your executable

    alpha.fdu.edu> a.out

Web / Internet

  1. How do I put a personal home page on the web ?

    To begin, you need to run the install_html program to create the directories, files, and file access modes for your account.

    Information on this command can be found by typing man install_html. Your home page can be accessed with the address


    where "username" is your Alpha login name.

  2. Is there a size limit on the web page(s) that I load ?

    There is a size limit for your web pages. You can use the command vquota to check quota that is currently used and the maximum quota you have. If you exceeded the quota limit, you cannot load or write anything to your account.

  3. If I have designed a personal web page, how can I put it on the current list of the web pages ?

    You do not have to do anything. The list of Alpha web pages is updated every night. You will see your name listed the day after you created your web page. If you did not change the sample web page (comes with the install_html program), your name will not appear on the list.

  4. I have a Unix or Alpha account, but I can't seem to access Netscape. What commands should I enter to get access ?

    You can access netscape through the Novell menu (windows, lan place, netscape).

  5. Is there a listing of e-mail addresses for faculty and staff ?

    No, we don't have such a list. However, on our web site www.fdu.edu, you can find/access the list of web pages for faculty and staff if they do have their own web pages.

  6. Lynx is becoming less and less compatible with the various web sites out there, particularly if there is a text field to fill in. More updated versions, I think, are more compatible. Are there any plans to upgrade Lynx ?

    Yes, we will upgrade lynx in the future, but there are no prospective dates at this time.

  7. I am an alumnus of FDU and would like to put a link to my home page on FDU's home page. Can you tell me how this can be done ?

    The list of Alpha alumni page is updated every night. The only way to get on this list is to have a web page on Alpha. To set up as your request, you need to have an Alpha account and set up the link by yourself with that account.

    For account request, see FAQ.1 Account.


  1. I'm looking to see if there is a list that exists of the student activities and resident life on all FDU campuses ?

    We do not have such mailing list. However, news group: fdu.general does serve for all campuses.

  2. How can I access the Oracle on Alpha ?

    Individual Oracle Qualification:
    Teaneck campus: any CS/MIS/MATH major who belongs to CS Department
    Madison campus: any CS Grad students

    After one obtains Oracle access, use command sqlplus to start Oracle.

  3. Do you allow faculty, other than FDU, to search for references in your library catalog ?

    We allow people to access library information by accessing tricat. After you login, you will see this message:

    Enter terminal type, or ' ?' to display:

    type ? for a list of choices
    then, you can pick one from the list.

  4. I am using my own internet service provider (ISP). I can't access FDU's news server. How can I do this ?

    We do not allow news server to be accessed outside of the FDU domain.

  5. As a company looking to post job openings at your institution, I was wondering if I could have the e-mail address of someone in Career Services.

    You can reach Lynn Lechner at lechner@alpha.fdu.edu.

  6. Sometimes I read newsgroups, don't save any postings or send any postings, and then get a message that I have exceeded my disk quota. I don't understand what happens when I read a newsgroup or what I can do so that reading it does not do anything to my account.

    You can check your directory the News directory -- it contains all files you saved on purpose or by accident. You can delete files inside News if you are sure that you do not want them. Use the following command to check all the files in you home directory, and remove some files using the command rm file_name.

    alpha.fdu.edu> ls -Rl | more

  7. Why won't my .plan/.project file work ?

    You need to set the permissions in your home directory to drwxr-xr-x. Do the following:

    alpha.fdu.edu> cd
    alpha.fdu.edu> chmod 755 .
    alpha.fdu.edu> chmod 644 .project
    alpha.fdu.edu> chmod 644 .plan

    To learn more about permission modes, type man chmod at the Alpha prompt.

  8. Where are the computer centers ?

    phone number: (973) 443-8689

    phone number: (201) 692-2731

    DICKINSON HALL (rooms 2163, 2164, 2165)
    phone number: (201) 692-7150

    phone number: (201) 692-2668

  9. How do I setup a new prompt on Alpha ?

    add the following line to the .login file
    set prompt="new_prompt> "

    you will see your new prompt at the next login

  10. How do I find out the available memory space of my account ?

    alpha.fdu.edu> vquota

  11. How can I set the editor to vi on Alpha ?

    setenv EDITOR vi

  12. How can I read the news ?

    use tin or pine at the Alpha prompt

  13. How can I go to a specific line number in edt ?

    Use CTRL-Z to get the "*" prompt. Then just type in the number at this prompt. Finally, type "c" to continue editing at that position.

  14. How do I change my finger name ?

    alpha.fdu.edu> chfn

    To know more about chfn, type man chfn at the Alpha prompt.

  15. How do I forward all my mail to another account ? How do I stop forwarding ?

    To forward all your mail to a new address "me@new.temp.address":

    alpha.fdu.edu> cd
    alpha.fdu.edu> echo "me@new.temp.address" > .forward

    To stop forwarding:

    alpha.fdu.edu> cd
    alpha.fdu.edu> rm .forward

  16. How do I compress and uncompress all the files in my account ?

    Assume that your home directory is /home/student/backup.
    First, in case you do not have enough memory space for the compression, make a copy of your home directory to /tmp directory.
    Second, go to /tmp and compress the whole tree using tar and gzip.
    Third, delete the copy of your home directory in /tmp.

    alpha.fdu.edu> cp -r /home/student/backup /tmp/backup
    alpha.fdu.edu> cd /tmp
    alpha.fdu.edu> tar clvf - backup/* | gzip -c > backup.gz
    alpha.fdu.edu> rm -rf /tmp/backup

    You can save or download this copy of backup.gz as your backup. If by accident, you deleted some important files, you can retrieve those files by uploading backup.gz to /tmp directory and uncompressing this backup.gz.

    alpha.fdu.edu> cd /tmp
    alpha.fdu.edu> zcat backup.gz | tar xpvf -

    After you retrieve those important files, delete the copy of your home directory in /tmp.

    alpha.fdu.edu> rm -rf /tmp/backup