Workstation administrator privileges — RCG Handbook

Workstation administrator privileges

Superuser privileges are limited to lab admins to limit security concerns, and to keep workstations relatively uniform and easier to manage at scale.

I have a software request

The software may already be installed (check by running dpkg --list | grep packagname) or it may be loadable from our collection of environment modules.

We welcome your software requests at

For popular software like MATLAB, Maple, Dropbox, TeamViewer, MATLAB, and LaTeX, see our Software FAQ page.

I need to ‘yum install’ or ‘apt-get install’ a package

Please contact and we will distribute it across all workstations. (If you need a package, chances are your labmates will, too.)

If you can’t wait, your lab administrator has sudo privileges and can do this for you.

I need sudoer privileges to compile this software

A lot of software can be compiled and run from e.g., /local-scratch without sudo privileges. Most documentation makes the sloppy assumption that you are root so it may require a little extra skill.

Instead of running ./configure && sudo make && sudo make install, try this instead:

$ ./configure --prefix=/cs/mylab/coolsoftware-1.1
$ make
$ make install

[now you can run /cs/mylab/coolsoftware-1.1/bin/coolthing]

Can I have a virtual machine where I have administrator privileges?

Unfortunately this would still add a great deal of workstation security risk and management complexity.

Virtual machines with sudo privileges are available if you need a machine for application hosting, safely disconnected from research network storage. Please get in touch if you need one provisioned.

If you need to do lightweight work in an alternate operating system, use our Windows and Linux terminal servers.

I have a legitimate need for administrator privileges not covered here

Get in touch with us.

You may also want to investigate becoming your local lab administrator.