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DICE Ubuntu release notes

Most of our DICE computers use Ubuntu Linux. Some of the DICE servers use Scientific Linux, but user-accessible computers generally offer Ubuntu. This page is about DICE Ubuntu, and has links to more information.

To see changes to this page, please return here from time to time.


The Ubuntu version we're using is 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa).

Systems Running Ubuntu

All the teaching lab machines have Ubuntu installed. There is also an ever increasing number of other services based on Ubuntu. Notable examples are:

Notable changes from SL7

If you have not used DICE SL7 then you can ignore this section.
Most software on Ubuntu is significantly more up-to-date than on SL7.

  • Matlab: As of June 2022, we provide version 2022a
  • Python: The commands python and python3 both refer to Python 3. Python 2 has reached the end of its life, so it will only be available on request.
  • MATE: This is our default desktop environment on Ubuntu, and it's the one you'll always get when using remote desktop. Ubuntu has a more recent version (1.24) than SL7 (1.16). If you change your MATE settings while using Ubuntu, they will no longer work on SL7. You can use MATE on both platforms safely only if you do not change your MATE settings on Ubuntu.
  • Thunderbird: A profile which has been used on Ubuntu will no longer work on SL7.
  • CUDA/cuDNN: nvidia as yet have only released cuda 11 for 20.04 and earlier versions do not support gcc 9 so initially at least only version 11 will be installed.
  • Firefox: If it starts up without your bookmarks and other personalisation, it has probably switched to a new profile. You can recover your old profile - just follow these instructions:
  • ispell: no longer exists. Use aspell.
  • Subversion: Ubuntu brings a major update, and the new version uses a changed file format. You can upgrade your checkout to it. To do this, login to an Ubuntu machine, go to your checkout then type
    svn upgrade

    However, beware: you cannot later undo this. Here are some ways to cope with this - choose one:

    • Use subversion on one platform only - either SL7 or Ubuntu, but not both.
    • Keep a separate checkout for each platform - one for SL7, another for Ubuntu.
    • Use the Ubuntu version of subversion on both platforms. First, on Ubuntu, upgrade your checkout (as above). Then on SL7 you can either:
      • Make the correct version of subversion available with
        scl enable sclo-subversion19 bash

        This changes the svn command in your current shell to be the same version as on Ubuntu.

      • Or use the binary directly:
  • Shell PATH variable: The default value of your shell's command search path is slightly different on Ubuntu than on SL7. In particular, ~/bin/share is no longer added automatically. Feel free to add it yourself.
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