Its metabolical processes are of interest only to historians.png The subject of this entry no longer exists in Davis or is a former version of something that came afterwards.
All information here is for historical reference only.

ISUN was an on-campus server that you could [wikipedia]ssh into to check your mail with [wikipedia]pine, [wikipedia]elm, etc. was retired from service in February 2009. This was done because the powers that be decided that providing unix shell accounts to the campus community was no longer that important and not worth the time and resources to maintain, cf. UC Davis IRC Server.

At one point, one could use [wikipedia]Telnet to access isun, but this was discontinued on May 18, 2005 in the ongoing effort to make the campus network more secure. [wikipedia]Text based mail clients such as pine are much faster than geckomail, especially at times of high network traffic. But you could do a lot more than just check your email with this server. It was a general purpose UNIX system that gives you access to many programming language compilers and interpreters such as g++, c++, perl (but not python), and several other command line utilities. Here's a modified description of ISUN from UC Davis' website:

ISUN — IET Unix Systems

If you came to Davis after a given date (July 10, 2000), an ISUN account was not automatically set up for you. You can set up an account, using your current UCD kerberos username/login at the [WWW]computing accounts website. Best of all, it's free if you're a student, faculty or staff member.

The disk quota was roughly 100MB (as of 11/26/05).

Using isun

Beginning May 18, 2005, as part of an ongoing effort to maintain a secure campus computing environment, you were no longer be able to access the ISUN servers using the telnet or FTP protocols. You could still use ssh and scp, respectively. For ssh, on a Mac or linux, open up a Terminal prompt and type:

ssh -l username or ssh

when it prompts you for a password, type your kerberos password at the prompt.

If you are on Windows, download an ssh client such as [WWW]Putty. Its very user friendly.

You can see some stats on the server's login numbers [WWW]here

isun Tips

Proxy Service

On the Shields Library website, there are hundreds of databases available to University students for research, containing the full text of millions of articles. Unfortunately, many of these can only be accessed from campus computers. You can use ssh to create a proxy server to run your web connections through the isun computers (or any SSH server, such as the ECE or CSIF machines) so that it looks like you're connecting to these databases from on campus.

To do this, (in Linux or on the Macintosh) run the command ssh -D 7700 This creates a proxy server on localhost:7700, and you can configure your web browser to use localhost:7700 as a SOCKS 5 proxy server (directions vary by browser) and all of your web connections will be tunnelled through campus. This can be done on Windows with the [WWW]Cygwin port of SSH, available as part of the Cygwin package or separately from [WWW]

Bear in mind that the version of SSH that came with older versions of Mac OS X only supported SOCKS 4, while Safari only supported SOCKS 5. This problem has been fixed at least since Tiger (10.4).

When you disconnect from, be sure to set your web browser's configuration back to what it was, otherwise you won't be able to connect to any websites.

Text-based Browsing

You can also use isun to browse websites using the text-based browser [wikipedia]Lynx. This comes in handy when your ISP's webservice craps out, but other services (such as SSH) are still running. For general use, its all text interface is ideal for simple web browsing, especially on services such as [WWW]imdb, where superfluous pictures and ads slow down browing on pictorial browsers. For modem users, lynx is a necessity. Note that the daviswiki is lynx compatible, both in terms of browsing and editing.


You can also use your shell account to connect to the DavisWiki IRC channel. To do so, follow these instructions: At the command prompt, simply type irc your-nick, followed by [enter/return]. After you're connected, type /join #daviswiki. (Note that you should replace "your-nick" above with a nickname that you chose for yourself.) [wikipedia]IRC is a technology that has been around far, far longer than wiki. It allows you to chat in real time with people from around the world (or just in Davis) in a group or individual format.

The IRC program installed on isun is quite old (ircII version 2.9_roof (19960721)) and still defaults to, even if you specify a server. To solve this problem, run irc, then type: /SERVER -DELETE, followed by /SAVE -ALL, and confirm that you would like to save the new configuration. (thanks to dreid)


The files that can be uploaded and accessed using the "MySpace" feature of MyUCDavis (click on "My Tools" in the toolbar, and then on "MySpace") are accessible on isun, under /afs/ This is useful when MyUCDavis is down or malfunctioning. Within the home/ folder, there are ~925 directories with names like a0, a1, etc. Within these directories lie the user folders. To figure out which folder your user folder is in, type pwd when you first log into isun. For example, when I log into isun and type pwd it returns /home/an/arlen, I can then get to my myspace folder at /afs/ Windows users who are not comfortable with using the Unix command line, might like [WWW]WinSCP or [WWW]Filezilla(recently ported to linux too), these are graphical tools for mass file moving.

The end?

IET claims it will shut down the service on February 27, 2009. That sucks.


Note: You must be logged in to add comments

2009-03-24 12:17:03   Does anyone know where the isun name came from? Is it an acronym? Was it originally a Sun system? —IDoNotExist

2009-03-24 12:50:49   The name came from the 4 letter role identifier (aka "permit") used to provision accounts in the Mothra account management system. The systems had been Suns since at least 1992, (there were also two DEC Ultrix systems at the time,) but at the time we implemented "isun" there were only Suns. The "I" prefix was used for a few different permits, I think it referred to the permit as being an "IT" service as opposed to some other departmental permit. —ChrisLambertus

2009-03-24 12:54:44   Were there any other machines with similarly derived names? —IDoNotExist

2009-03-24 13:42:54   I don't believe any other systems used the permit name as the hostname. isun was actually a round-robin DNS record during my tenure, which pointed to an ever-shifting array of Sun hardware and hostnames. I'm sure someone with the interest could add the list here for posterity, but it'd have to be someone with more free time than I. :-)

2009-05-21 17:34:18   It is extremely sad they shut this down. I am a new student Fall 09 and I was really looking forward to a UC Davis shell. Maybe we can start a petition to get this back up and running. —cwverdun

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