MIT's academic computing effort falls under the Athena rubric. cron run a customized Athena environment the better to accommodate Macintosh and Windows platforms. Specifically, cron leverage the authentication, authorization and networked storage components of Athena.

Though WinAthena is centrally developed and supported by MIT's IS&T, cron have made contributions to the effort by being first adopters. MacAthena, on the other hand, was developed entirely in-house and has seen modest adoption outside the School of Architecture and Planning.

MacAthena : How MacAthena Works

  • Cluster desktop Macintosh computers are configured for auto-mounted AFS access and centralized maintenance
  • MacAthena Macintoshes authenticate against the MIT KDC (Kerberos Key Distribution Center). It is for this reason you must enter your Kerberos ID and password to gain access to the computer. Once authenticated, helps negotiate connection to file services over AFS (Andrew File System)
  • Upon successful login, you are granted Kerberos Tickets and AFS Tokens which are set to expire in 10 hours. Should these expire whilst logged in to MacAthena, you lose all contact with your networked storage. To keep this from happening, MacAthena warns you repeatedly when tickets/tokens are about to expire. You've the option to renew these or logout
  • Quota: Athena quotas are set at 8 GB. More space can be requested by writing Note that MacAthena warns you when you are approaching your quota
  • Running Windows under MacAthena: In the DUSP GIS Cluster (09-554), Windows is made available under VMware Fusion. To use the Windows VM: 
    1. Double-click /Applications/vmWindows10
    2. If prompted, select 'I copied it'
    3. User has full admin privileges on the VM, so user can customize Windows as he likes. Take note that all customizations are lost upon logging out of the Macintosh
    4. Save any files to external drives or the Windows Desktop (this will in effect save them to your MacAthena desktop as these are mirrored). Do not save files in any other location on the VM as they will be permanently deleted upon logging out of the Macintosh
    5. Upon logging out of MacAthena, the VM is completely reset. All files and customizations are permanently lost, unless the warnings above are heeded
  • A diagram of the MacAthena environment appears at the foot of this page

WinAthena : How WinAthena Works

  • Cluster Windows desktop computers are configured for access to remote user directories and centralized maintenance
  • WinAthena PC authentication and authorization  is a rather involved hack calling into play MIT's KDC (Kerberos Key Distribution Center), Moira, and Active Directory. It is for this reason you must enter your Kerberos ID and password to gain access to the computer. Once authenticated, you connect to file services over AFS (Andrew File System) and DFS
  • The H: drive is mapped to your personal directory on DFS. Files stored on DFS are accessible from MacAthena. Files stored on DFS are also available from your personal computer under the right conditions
  • WinAthena also allows for saving files to AFS (I: drive). Files stored on AFS are accessible from any other computer (Macintosh, Windows, Linux) from anywhere in the world
  • A diagram of the WinAthena environment appears below

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