Mechanical Engineering Content Management System

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Home Technical FAQs

Technical FAQs

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Please read this webpage in its entirety to learn how to access the ME web server and upload your files for web users' perusal. Some changes have been instituted.

For the security reasons, the web server can only be accessed for file uploads or ssh access only from the domain. If you are going to be away for a while and would like remote access to the server, please let me know.

There are two groups of users who can access the server:

1. Class and Club users: these are temporarily assigned to faculty teaching a certain ME class or to a club. In the beginning of the semesters, the class user passwords are generated and given to faculty which expire after the semester is over. I will describe how to access the web server for this class of users below.

2. Faculty and Lab users: these are permanent users assigned to faculty for their personal pages and their lab website. All faculty have a user id. If you need to host your lab website, please let me know and I will create a user id for your lab web site. Some lab site owners already exist. If you had a lab user id before, you have it now as well.


1) All the commands that you need to type on the shell or in the web browser are in Courier Font.

2) All that is in braces {...} needs to be substituted with a user specific string - like your username.

Q1. How do I access the Mechanical Engineering web server?

There are two methods for accessing the server:

1. The web server can accept files transferred using FTP. You need to have an FTP client (a piece of software that runs on your local machine)  to upload files. You can download the free WS_FTP software from or download another client called Filezilla (recommended). You will need to insert following information in the FTP client: 1. username (example: mec100), 2. password (this you will get from Melissa or Augusta), 3. server name:

If you log on as a class or club user, you will be in your home directory. Your home directory has a directory called public_html inside which you should upload all the web pages for your class. There has to be at least one file called index.html or index.php in the public_html directory. This file serves as your home page. After uploading files, you can see your class web site at{my_user_name} (example:

If you log on as a faculty or lab user, you will again need to go inside public_html directory (which is in your home directory), and then upload your files there. Again, you can see your web site at{my_user_name} (example:

If you are getting an error when trying to view your website, please see FAQ# 5 below.

2. The above method will work for all the users and is recommended for all file uploads. However, faculty and lab users can also securely log on to the server. This lets you change your default passwords and also issue unix commands on the prompt (the server is running a latest variant of linux as operating system). There is a SSH (Secured Shell) server running on the web server. You need a client  to access it. Go to, enter your credentials when asked, and then download SSH 3.2.2. Save it on your hard drive and install it. After installation, by default, installer will put an icon on your desktop with name something like "SSH Secure Shell Client". Launch it by double clicking on it. Click Profiles, and Add Profile. Type MEC in the box, and click Add to Profiles. Again click Profiles, then Edit Profiles, Select MEC from the left hand side and fill in following in some of the empty boxes:

Host name:

User name:

Do not touch other values and click OK.

Now, you are all set to access the machine. Just click Profiles and then MEC. A dialog box will pop up asking you your password and a warning asking something like Do you want to store this key..., say Yes to that dialog. Type in your password. If you see a welcome message, you are logged on the server. The class users can not use this method to access the server.

Q2. I put in my password, but it did not allow me to log in. Why?

Either your password is expired or you did not type it in correctly. When getting your password from Melissa or Augusta, please be careful in differentiating between l (lower case L) and 1 (the number 1), and between o ("O"h or "o"h) and 0 (zero).Please remember that all passwords are case sensitive and those of class users age in 4 months time. After expiry date, you have 7 days to change your passwords before being locked out. If the problem persists, please This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Q3. I am a faculty or lab user, and would like to upload my files using ssh. How do I do that?

If you are using the SSH Client as mentioned above, then just click from the top menu Window->'New File Transfer in Current directory'. This will open another window with a divider in the middle. Now, just navigate to your folder in the left pane and drag files/folder to the right pane in the public_html folder. After you transfer the files, right click on them, click properties and make sure that the permission mode (shown at the bottom) value is 644 (if it is a file) and 755 if it is a directory. If it's not then change them to these values. If you don't make sure of that then myriad bad things can happen to your files and directories - including tampering or deletion of them by rogue users. Also, if the permissions are not set to those values, your website will not show up. This is a common problem. If you created your web pages on windows machines and then transferred them, chances are that the files and directory permissions are by default very dangerous, so you need to be especially careful of that. Also, see FAQ# 5.

Q4. I transferred my files to public_html directory, now how do I see them in a browser?

If you have an index.html or index.htm or index.php file in your public_html directory, then just type{my_user_name} (example: Again, if the file and directory permissions are not set to the values described above, your website will not show up in a browser.

Q5. I uploaded my files as instructed above, and I tried seeing my web site at{my_user_name}, but I get a permission denied message.

Please make sure that the permissions for your files and directories are set correctly.

In WS_FTP, right click on a selection of all of your files, and select chmod (UNIX) option (in Filezilla client, select File Attributes option). Make sure that the File permissions are set to: Owner: read and write, Group: read , Public: read. For the directories, se the permission to Owner: read, write, and execute, Group: read and execute, Public: read and execute. Now, refresh your web page in the browser.

Q6. How do I create a web site and serve to the world for my class or for my personal web site?

First, you need to create the web site, using a web editor, such as Microsoft Expressions Web (free download from MSDNAA), FrontPage, Macromedia Dreamweaver, or Adobe GoLive. If you are a brave soul, you can just write your own html code using notepad or vi (however, I don't recommend it unless your pages are very simple in layout and just a dump of textual information). Microsoft Word also provides a facility to save your word documents as html - that'd do if you were in a hurry. My recommendation for putting up documents at the server is to convert all non-html documents in pdf (portable document format) format because as the expansion of the acronym implies, it is portable and that means it'd not only show up consistently across all platforms (windows, mac, unix, linux) but will also print exactly how you intended. This is not true of Microsoft Word. Another advantage of using pdf is that the viewers (Adobe Acrobat Reader) for pdf documents are available for most of the platforms.

Q7. I am a faculty or lab user. The current password is quite cryptic and hard to remember. How do I change my password?

Log on to machine using ssh as described above and type /usr/bin/passwd at the prompt. It'll ask you your current password and then you can put in your new password. Please, choose a password that is hard to guess and is difficult to crack. A good starting point is to choose a password that has at least 6-8 characters and is not a dictionary word. Please note that the class or club users are restricted to use the password given to them in the beginning of the semster.

Q8. I'd like to make an archive of my class web site after the semester is over. Will you delete my files?

To make space on the server, we may need to delete files. Thus, we recommend you to please back up the contents on your own machine.

Last updated Sep 30, 2010 by This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it