Getting Started: Grad Students

This page is for CSAIL graduate students and postdocs to quickly get an overview of what services are available and how to get them, as well as recommended computing best practices.

Accounts MIT and CSAIL both have their own user accounts. Most CSAIL users will need both.

CSAIL Account

Access to just about everything TIG has to offer is granted via your CSAIL Kerberos name and password. You can obtain a user account, and optionally a CSAIL email account, by filling out the application form: Request an account here. You will need to provide your research group, supervisor, and type of appointment, as well as a working (existing) email address such as GMail or

Graduate student and postdoc CSAIL accounts are set up to expire automatically every July 1. Your supervisor will need to renew it each year.

MIT Account

Your MIT account will provide you access to all MIT’s services, software, and Atlas (a single online gateway for administrative systems.) Your MIT Kerberos account is sometimes referred to as an Athena or email account. Sign up using the MIT Kerberos account registration page.


MIT Certificates are a safe, optional way for MIT web applications to identify you without you needing to type in a username and password.

See Accounts and Authentication for more info about accounts

CSAIL Website Profile

One of the most common tasks all new and existing CSAIL members have is getting their public profile on the CSAIL web site and up to date with biographical and bibliographical content. See this page on how to get started.



See Email and Communicating for more info


Slack is a popular messaging and collaboration platform. MIT provides Slack Enterprise Grid, a messaging and collaboration tool for teams, groups and individuals. With Slack Enterprise Grid, MIT faculty, students, and staff are eligible to create Slack workspaces and all members of the extended MIT community are eligible to participate in MIT’s Slack workspaces.



TIG and MIT provides data storage in many forms: the AFS and NFS network file systems, Ceph object and block storage system, as well as MIT Dropbox for Business. Together, these services comprise over 1PB of local data, much of which is backed up using enterprise backup hardware and software, and rotated through off-site storage facilities for disaster recovery.

See Data Storage for more info


If you need your own workstation or physical server, we encourage you to consult with TIG before committing to a purchasing decision. Budget and approval is entirely up to your groups’ administrators and supervisors.

See Hardware for more info


TIG provides support, installation, and troubleshooting of Windows, MacOS, and CSAIL Linux, and well as most MIT provided business applications. Some MIT business applications such as SAPgui and MIT Mail, for example, we can only provide our best effort support as we do not have administrative control or access to these applications.

By far, the most common operating systems in use at CSAIL are CSAIL Linux, Microsoft Windows, and Apple macOS. We provide some level of support for each of these platforms.

For pre-configured Windows, Mac, and Linux machines available for Lab use, see:

IS&T offers a wide range of free software applications for the MIT community:


Laptop Security



Phishing is a ploy to get you to click on bogus links or disclose your username and password, giving attackers a way to capture sensitive data, such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details. Learn about the latest attacks. Don’t ever answer requests for passwords via email or telephone. Neither TIG nor IS&T will ever ask for your password in an email.

If you think you might have responded to a phishing attempt, change your passwords ASAP and contact us.

Learn more about phishing at MIT and CSAIL.

Accessories and Equipment Loaning

TIG has a variety of equipment available for short-term loans, including projectors, laptops, and conference phones. These items can be reserved and booked in advance. Some smaller equipment items, such as adapters and cables, are loan or given out by TIG on a first-come first-serve basis. You must visit TIG for these items.

Please visit the TIG Equipment System, “quip” to browse and reserve, or come to [TIG in 32-270] and we may have it!

Technical Information for Grant Proposals

In some in a grant or contract proposals, sponsors require information on technical / computing infrastructure specifications at CSAIL. This summary provides that information.

Getting Help

TIG is a resource for all your computing and facility related needs. Contact us to report everything from a broken door handle to a problem with a server or email. We encourage any feedback, and welcome all to stop in room 270 any time and meet the TIG staff.

If you would like to open a support case regarding Computing or Facilities related issues, sending an email to the address below will create a trouble tracking ticket in which we will promptly respond to.


Come visit us on the second floor of the Stata Center, in 32-270. We’d be happy to see you.

You can also reach us by phone. You can leave a voice mail if we are unavailable.

Phone: 617-253-8304

When leaving an off-hour message via voicemail you may be waking up an uncaffeinated sysadmin. Reserve off-hour voicemails for emergencies only.