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UBC Mathematics: MathNet FAQ [Samba Resources]

UBC Mathematics: MathNet FAQ [Samba Resources]

Question: What is the "MathNet" folder on my Windows desktop?
Author: Joseph Tam
Date: Jan. 16, 2007

This FAQ explains the contents of the "MathNet" folder. It should be on every user's desktop for every public MathNet Windows workstation we support. It contains useful information, shortcuts and links to your MathNet files.

Samba account

Before you can use much of the content of the "MathNet" folder, you must establish a Samba account which will identify you to the Samba service. If you have an existing Samba account, you can skip this section and go on to the next section.

If you do not have a Samba account (for example, if you click the "Common" link and it comes back with a login window), you can initialize your Samba account by going to this page

MathNet User Services: Password Change
site, log in using your MathNet username and password. It works best if you set the password to the same as your MathNet password (or the workstation password you most frequently use).


The "MathNet" folder contain the following items:

  • README: this document.
  • Common: this is the directory assigned to store your personal data. It is stored as a subdirectory within your Unix home directory which is located on our central file server.
  • Web: this is your personal web folder (if it exists), which is mapped to the URL

    If you do not have a personal web directory but would like one, please see the appropriate FAQ item on this subject.

  • Snapshots: this folder contains snapshots (backups) of the above 2 folders taken at 3 different times. If you have accidentally deleted or altered a file in the Common or Web folder, you can obtain a copy of those files as they were at the time the snapshot was taken.

    Snapshot times:

    • Last hour: at the top of this hour. For example, if the current time is 11:22, this folder contains snapshots of your files at 11:00.
    • Last night: snapshot at midnight this morning.
    • Last Sunday: snapshot at midnight of previous Saturday/Sunday.

    There are more snapshots available, but they are only available using the Unix command line access. See the FAQ item on this subject.


Using the "Common" folder to store your files rather than the desktop of the Windows workstation or its local hard disk offers benefits:

  • Availability: this folder (and all its contents) should be available on all department public Windows workstations. It can also be made available from any personal Windows workstation (ask the IT staff for setup instructions).

    If you prefer the convenience of having files readily available on your desktop, you can store them in this folder, then make shortcuts to them on your desktop.

  • Back ups: if you accidentally delete or modify a file, you can easily retrieve previous versions of that file (see snapshots). Furthermore, this data is copied onto tape storage for long-term backups.
  • Remotely accessible: files can be retrieved using remote file protocols (sftp, web, etc.) from other computers or networks. If you store files on the desktop or local hard disk, it will only be accessible from that workstation.
  • Migration: if your MathNet account expires, this data is archived and retained so that it can can be sent to your new destination. Also, if a workstation needs to be updated or replaced, this data will be available on the new host.

    In either case, Data stored elsewhere will be purged.


There are some precautions you should take when using the central file service:

  • Space limitations: the central file service has storage quotas placed on the total amount of storage consumed by a user. This prevents the problems where a user can consume all available space and deprive other users of storage. See the FAQ entry about quotas to find out how you can monitor the amount of storage you use.
  • Performance: the use of the MathNet file service incurs performance overhead because data is transmitted over the network rather than from the local hard disk. The performance penalty is slight and not worth sacrificing the benefits for, but for short lived files or files of no importance -- especially for large files -- it may be better to store it on your desktop.

Advanced users

For Unix users, the folders above are located in

Common ~/.windesk
Web /nfs/HomeWeb/username
Snapshots /nfs/snap.set/time/username
where set is either "home" or "web" and time is one of "hourly.0" or "nightly.0" or "weekly.0".

The "MathNet" folder can be mounted on your personal Windows workstation (if it is connected within the MathNet network) as


To mount your home directory, you can mount


Other web pages

These web pages were referred to: