What is Engineering Linux?

Why use Engineering Linux?

We Do the Hard Work for You

Engineering Linux is the supported Linux environment used by the College of Engineering. It is configured in such a way that allows Engineering IT to easily manage and support it. We'll get you up and running quickly and once your machine is installed, You can use the same NetID and password that you use across campus to log in to our managed Linux systems.  Once you're logged in, we provide a large amount of software through installed Linux packages and Software Modules.

User and Group Management

If you have a NetID, you already have an account on our Linux machines. We use NetIDs for our user accounts, which means that managing your account is easy. You use the same username and password for both Windows and Linux machines and you can easily change your password with https://passwords.cites.illinois.edu/.

Managing research group members is simple on Engineering Linux. We use some of the same mechanisms to manage group members in Linux and Windows world, so group members can be managed with relative ease. Group members can even be managed via the web at http://my.engr.illinois.edu/groups. To add external collaborators, just email us at engrit-help [at] illinois [dot] edu and we'll create accounts for them.


Engineering IT will make sure that your systems receive the latest security patches. We will also ensure that all of your systems pass campus security auditing.


If you or your group needs a particular piece of software, chances are we already have it ready for you! Our standard Linux install provides a wide array of common packages, and beyond that are Linux Environment Modules which can be used to mount externally configured software.  If your group needs further customization of the software environment we can provide that too, especially if the software requested is already a Red Hat package or is freely available elsewhere. Please see the page Requesting Linux Software for further information.

Support and Stability

Our Linux distribution is based on Scientific Linux 6 (SL6), a distribution developed and maintained by research laboratories. The base Scientific Linux distribution is basically Red Hat Enterprise Linux, recompiled from source. It contains many application packages that are commonly used by universities and research labs but are not normally part of the base Red Hat installation. The SL6 base provides us with the stability of Red Hat and the flexibility required for scientific computing. As an organization, Engineering IT is committed to providing support to our Linux users who use this distribution.


With our managed Linux solution, printers that you need to use can be added to group machines by contacting Engineering IT. We will set up your machines to make sure printing works correctly on your desired printer. Also, any printer that is added to one machine is also added to the group machines, providing easy access to printers for the entire group.

Where can I try out Engineering Linux?

All of the EWS Labs which contain Linux machines are running Engineering Linux. If you've ever used a Linux machine in these labs, you've used our Linux distribution! If you need a space to test the capabilities of Engineering Linux beyond what the EWS labs offer, we may be able to set up a Virtual Machine (VM) for that purpose. Please email us at engrit-help [at] illinois [dot] edu if you're looking for a VM or have any further questions about our Linux distribution.

How do I get Engineering Linux?

Email us at engrit-help [at] illinois [dot] edu! We'll ask you some questions about your group and your machines and help you get everything installed and set up. If you'd like to expedite this process, please fill out the form at https://illinois.edu/fb/sec/740578.

What Engineering Linux isn't

Engineering Linux is not meant for web hosting. While it is possible to run a web server from this Linux distribution, we have other resources in place that are more suited towards running a website. For web hosting, see How do I get a website? If you believe that the web hosting services that Engineering IT offers are not a viable option for your use case, please mail us at engrit-help [at] illinois [dot] edu.

Get Help

Questions about this topic? Don't see what you're looking for?

Email engrit-help [at] illinois [dot] edu, call the Help Desk at 217-333-1313, or contact your primary IT support professional.