Athena is an academic computing environment provided to the MIT community in the form of remote access servers (known as the “dialups”), a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), and Pharos, a hold-and-release service for printers distributed across campus.

Available To 
Students, Faculty, Staff, Affiliates

Benefits and key features

  • Kerberos authentication and OpenAFS
  • Access to MIT ‘lockers’ and your Athena home directory on the AFS filesystem
  • Access to a collection of common utilities and MIT-licensed software
  • Centrally-managed printers

The Athena Dialups service ( provides all MIT community members with access via a secure shell on one of a pool of servers running Ubuntu (currently 18.0.4 LTS).

Beginning in fall 2021, the Virtual Athena Desktop service will provide students with access to these features in a graphical user interface via the VMWare Horizon client. Virtual Athena Desktops are available for temporary, first-come, first-serve use. Note that this service is currently in beta, so availability may be limited if usage exceeds expectations.

  • Virtual Athena Desktops feature 2 CPUs, 8 GB RAM, and 50 GB local disk, running Ubuntu 18.0.4 LTS
  • Available to students only during this beta period
  • Sessions may not exceed 24 hours
  • Virtual machines are deleted and refreshed after 24 hours


Getting started