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LIONS (Large Integrated Online Networked Services) is the Linux/UNIX environment created primarily for academic computing. A LIONS account is needed to access the "General Purpose" UNIX/Linux resources supported by ITS. Although any current faculty, staff or student is eligible for a LIONS account, only a small percentage actually need one. Please make sure that YOU need this kind of account before you set one up.

Introduction to LIONS

Requesting A LIONS Account

Activation of your LIONS accounts is processed via MIDAS (Monarch IDentification and Authorization System) located at at https://midas.odu.edu. When you activate your LIONS account from MIDAS, it may take upwards of one hour for your account to be created. Please be patient during this process. If it exceeds an hour, please send an email to itshelp@odu.edu explaining the situation.

Please note that even though you can set up your LIONS account thru MIDAS, it can not and does not give access to certain resources, such as departmental software, nor does it assume any quota beyond the system defaults. To get access to departmental software or to increase your quota once you have set up your LIONS account, please contact your Instructor or send an email to itshelp@odu.edu to request such access.

Accessing Your LIONS Account

You may access your LIONS account any number of ways. While there are several systems in the LIONS architecture, the preferred system to use for remote access is lin-login.lions.odu.edu (short for Linux Login). If you have access to department LIONS clients, you may use them as well. If you are using a UNIX/Linux workstation, you can access most LIONS systems remotely using the Secure Shell (ssh) command. (Please note the telnet and rlogin commands are not supported.) For Microsoft Windows users, you can also access LIONS remotely in a graphical session via the X-Window network protocol using the X-Win32 or PuTTY programs. Information about X-Win32 and PuTTY can be found on the LIONS web page. You can also "ftp" files to or from your LIONS account, but only if you point your FTP client to ftp.lions.odu.edu. Please see the Remote Access tab for more information on how to do this.

Web Pages

Faculty and staff may request the ability to host a university related web page from their LIONS account via a ~public_html directory. In most cases students may obtain this ability through the authorization of a department representative. In neither case is the ability on by default unless it was requested at the time the account was created. Just having a public_html directory will not make its contents accessible via the web. More information is available on the Web Services tab on this page. Please note that this facility was intended for setting up pages for distributing research results, and is not set up for hosting complete web sites, though that is possible. If you need assistance with your web pages, we recommend that you investigate what the University has to offer in planning, designing, and deployment of your web information - please visit the University Web & Digital Communication pages for more information regarding these offerings.

Changing Your Password

You may change your password either using MIDAS (preferred) or by using the UNIX passwd command. Just one word of caution - if you change your LIONS password using the passwd command, the next time you change it in MIDAS, it will sync up your LIONS password with your MIDAS password. Please make sure you use a strong password. Do not use names or other "dictionary" words. If we guess your password doing an automated password strength check, your account will be locked and you will have to pick up a new password in person.

Disk Quotas

By default, student account disk quotas are 256MB, while faculty and staff disk quotas are 512MB. If you are a faculty or staff member and you run out of space, please send your request to itshelp@odu.edu along with a brief justification for the additional space. If you are a student and you run out of space, please have your instructor or faculty advisor make the request for you. Please note that LIONS is not designed for storage of large data sets. If you have such as need, please send an email to itshelp@odu.edu requesting such space.

Remote Access

You may access your LIONS account in any number of ways. While there are several systems in the LIONS architecture, the preferred system for remote access is lin-login.lions.odu.edu running Red Hat Enterprise Linux. If you have access to departmental LIONS clients, you may access them as well.

There are four supported methods of logging in remotely to LIONS, namely, SSH(Secure Shell)/PuTTY, FTP (File Transfer Protocol), and X-Win32. Please note that users are not normally allowed to FTP directly to any UNIX server or workstation, so please use SFTP (part of the OpenSSH package) instead.

Secure Shell (SSH)

SSH, the Secure Shell, is a program for logging into a remote machine and for executing commands on a remote machine. SSH features encrypted communication between the local and remote login host. It also supports forwarding of X connections between hosts using encrypted communcation protocols. Because of its security features, SSH is the recommended method of remote login to LIONS servers.

OpenSSH is the SSH software installed on all UNIX systems that are a part of LIONS. OpenSSH supports the SSH-2 protocols. However, unlike previous installs of SSH, the ability to forward X connections is not enabled by default. When you ssh to a remote host, use the -X or the -Y flags (ex. ssh -X lin-login.lions.odu.edu) to enable X connection forwarding.

Currently, ITS does not officially support a particular SSH product for the Microsoft Windows platform. However, the Server Support Group has used the PuTTY and MobaXterm programs with some success in our environment - Just make sure you download and use the latest version of the package.

As of Spring Break of 2022 (March 7-13, 2022), we have enabled DUO Two Factor Authentication (2FA) on lin-login.lions.odu.edu. This is the same DUO 2FA that is being offered to the campus for a variety of ODU IT services such as Leoonline, MOVE, and myODU Portal, just to name a few. This is so that we secure our on-campus public facing services which provide means of authentication using your ODU MIDAS credentials and to stay compliant with our current IT security policies. In short, after you enter your password to log into lin-login, you will be prompted for a DUO 2FA prompt. When you log in, you will receive a password prompt, followed by the DUO 2FA login.

$ ssh yourmidasid@lin-login.lions.odu.edu


Duo two-factor login for yourmidasid

Enter a passcode or select one of the following options:

Duo Push to XXX-XXX-5309

SMS passcodes to XXX-XXX-5309

Passcode or option (1-2): 1

Success. Logging you in...

Last login: Thu Feb 10 10:56:53 2022 from


File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

The LIONS enviroment features anonymous as well as authenticated FTP. As previously explained, users are NOT allowed to ftp to a particular UNIX system (ex. ftping to lin-login.lions.odu.edu directly). Instead there is a dedicated FTP server called ftp.lions.odu.edu. Your LIONS username and password are all you need to start transferring files back and forth to your home directory or any other directores you have access to.

For more information on FTP, please see this document, which describes FTP as well as how to use Anonymous FTP.

Secure FTP/Secure Copy

The SFTP and SCP protocols are features of the secure shell protocol and may also be used to transfer files and from the LIONS environment. Please note that SFTP/SCP are NOT the same as FTP, and may only be used to connect to SSH-capable machines.

When using a SFTP or SCP client like PuTTY and WinSCP, please use lin-login.lions.odu.edu as the host to transfer files to. ftp.lions.odu.edu does not support SFTP or SCP.


X-Win32 by Startnet Inc. is a PC X server (X is the graphical user interface protocol for UNIX systems) for connecting Windows(tm) PCs with UNIX systems. With X-Win32 a user can log into a remote UNIX system and have that system display locally on the Windows Desktop.

X-Win32 is the current standard supported by ITS for a Windows-based X-server. If you are a Windows(tm) user and need access to a UNIX system and don't have X-Win32 installed, please click HERE (a new browser window will open) and you will be prompted for your ODU Monarch-Key login. Otherwise, please call the Customer Service Center at 757-683-3192.


MobaXterm by Mobatek is, according to the vendor, "an enhanced terminal for Windows with an X11 server, a tabbed SSH client and several other network tools for remote computing (VNC, RDP, telnet, rlogin). MobaXterm brings all the essential Unix commands to Windows desktop, in a single portable exe file which works out of the box."

While not officially supported by ITS, it is an alternative to PuTTY and X-Win32. You should install the free version, and it is most convenient to download the Installer version.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I am trying to use FTP to login to from my PC using WS-FTP (or other PC FTP software) software, but it says connection refused? why?

A. You can use FTP to access your home directory (and sub directories) by going through the machine ftp.lions.odu.edu. This is a special machine to handle the FTP services. All of the LIONS hosts as well as "ftp.lions.odu.edu" have access to the same LIONS AFS space.

Q. I am trying to connect using a Windows machine, and I don't have any SSH program installed. How do I connect?

A. The free PuTTY and MobaXterm programs can be installed and used to connect to LIONS.


All licensed Departmental Software is installed in /afs/lions.odu.edu/@sys/dep/ where dept is the name of the departmental directory (for example, /afs/lions.odu.edu/@sys/dep/ece). Each directory is accessable only by users in that department. For example, members of the Aerospace department have access to software installed in the ECE directory.

The Server Support Group has written start-up scripts for departmental software. These scripts are located in /usr/pubsw/bin. However, because /usr/pubsw/bin is in your PATH, just type the name of the script to activate the software without typing in the whole path. Each start-up script is defined as [dept]-[software] (ex. cae-proe, ece-matlab). Access to the scripts are restricted by department (i.e. all scripts labeled aero can only be used by the Aerospace Engineering department).

Using Another Department's Software

If you would like to use software licensed to another department, you need to contact the department. If they approve they will send an e-mail to itshelp@odu.edu asking us to allow you access to their software. However, most departments will reserve the right to revoke your usage privileges if you are taking away resources from their students.

Licensed Software

The UNIX Support Group offers network level support for licensed software. Our main level of support deals with ensuring that the software is installed properly and can be accessed by the authorized users. If problems arise we will work with the department and often times we will contact the Technical Support department of a software vendor and work with them to resolve any issues. Some problems are more difficult than others and cannot be solved in a few minutes. When the problem is solved we will contact all appropriate parties to inform them of the fix.

LIONS Web Services

Faculty and staff may request the ability to host a university related web page from their LIONS account by sending a request to itshelp@odu.edu and then creating a public_html directory via the directions in the document below. In most cases students may obtain this ability through the authorization of a department representative, meaning, that their instructor or faculty advisor needs to make the request in behalf of the student. Please note that in neither case is this ability on by default unless it was requested at the time the account was created. Just having a public_html directory in your home directory will not make its contents accessible via the web.

If you wish to house your departmental or organizational web pages under LIONS, we recommend that you do not store them under your LIONS user id. Please visit the University Web & Digital Communication pages if you are interested in creating a web presence for your college/department.

Document: LIONS Web Services

Introduction to Kerberos/OpenAFS

LIONS was created with redundancy and fault tolerance as it's primary objective. To assist us with running such a large environment requires a world-class Enterprise Security and File systems. The underlying structure which makes up LIONS are

  • Kerberos as the network authentication protocol
  • OpenAFS as the distributed file system where home directories and other storage resides
  • LDAP is the naming services "glue" used to bind the Kerberos and OpenAFS information together

The following document shows how Kerberos, OpenAFS and LDAP are used in the LIONS environment.

Document: Introduction to Kerberos/OpenAFS

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