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DICE SL7 release notes

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DICE SL7 is the current version of DICE. It was introduced in spring and summer 2015. It was initially targeted at desktop computers but now also powers most DICE services and servers. This page notes differences which users would have noticed compared to the older SL6 release.

Software continuity

Although SL7 is quite different to SL6 at a lower level, we have put a lot of effort into ensuring that most user-visible software such as Firefox, Thunderbird, Libre Office and Java is the same on both versions of DICE. Python is an exception: its default version is 2.7 on SL7 but 2.6 on SL6 - though the same libraries should be available on both.


DICE SL7 is built on Scientific Linux 7 (7.0 release notes, 7.6 release notes) which is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (release notes and documentation).


  • window manager choice: SL7 has a choice of window managers. The choice can be made from the login screen. However, with SL7 your choice will only be remembered if you choose using the DICE switchdesk tool.
  • sleep: when waking a machine from sleep by pressing the keyboard, the key you press will register on the woken machine - so wake it by pressing a non-printing key such as Control or Shift. If you press the space bar then try to login, the extra space in the username field will cause the login attempt to fail.
  • screenlock: The Ctl-Alt-L shortcut still locks the screen in MATE, but not in GNOME or other window managers. Screen Lock in GNOME describes how to lock the screen in GNOME.
  • Detecting platform version: It is often necessary to have scripts which function differently on SL6 and SL7. To help with detecting the current platform there is an environment variable which is, confusingly, called ENVIRONMENT. On SL7 machines that is set to el7; it is el7 to denote compatibility with Redhat Enterprise Linux 7. It is also possible to check the contents of the /etc/LCFG-RELEASE or /etc/redhat-release files. We do not recommend relying on the output of commands such as uname since that might change.
  • How to log out: in newer versions of SL7 the Log Out control has been hidden, at least if you use the default window manager. Here's how to log out.


  • PDF: the default standalone PDF reader on SL7 is evince. The PDF on DICE page explains why we do not recommend acroread on SL7.
  • XEmacs: GNU Emacs (the emacs command) is installed on all DICE SL7 desktops. The xemacs variant can be installed on individual staff/postgraduate desktops on request.
  • virt-manager is misconfigured by default, but there's a workaround.

Known problems

  • audio: if audio files don't play but instead give an error such as PulseAudio: Unable to connect: Connection refused, it may be that the audio system is failing to start because of incompatible files in your home directory. Try removing them then log out and in again:
    rm ~/.pulse/*
  • gnome keyring: at login you may be presented with a dialog box with "wrong password for keyring" and a password prompt. Do not enter your password here. Get rid of this pop up by deleting a keyring file which may be either:
    rm ~/.local/share/keyrings/login.keyring 
    rm ~/.gnome2/keyrings/login.keyring 
  • latex: The TeXLive distribution bundled with SL7 was incomplete and outdated. See our latex documentation for more detail.
  • pidgin: highlighted URL links do not open when clicked on. This is a bug which we hope to see fixed in a future version.
  • Windows on DICE: The Windows emulator wine is not installed on SL7 DICE, but Windows is available and can be installed on a VirtualBox VM.
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