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Incoming freshmen: Getting started with IT at MIT
June 22, 2017
Jess Archer
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laptop and smartphone
Photo: mmtstock

Being an incoming MIT freshman can be daunting. You’re probably getting bombarded with checklists of what to do and buy, from creating your Kerberos account to setting up your dorm room. Don’t worry, Information Systems & Technology (IS&T) is here to guide you through everything you’ll need to know about IT at MIT.

Hardware requirements

The first thing you’ll need to do is check out your laptop or desktop to make sure it meets the demands of MIT coursework. Here are the minimum requirements:

Intel Core i3 processor or later
120 GB hard disk

Those are the absolute minimum; here is the recommended configuration:

Intel Core i5 or i7 processor
250 GB hard disk or larger (7200 RPM)

Operating systems

Once you’ve confirmed that your hardware meets the minimum requirements, it’s time to check out your operating system (OS). For Macs, IS&T recommends OS X El Capitan 10.11 or above, while Windows users should have Windows 7 or later installed. IS&T also provides the Red Hat Enterprise distribution of Linux.

All of these operating systems (and much more) are available to MIT students through IS&T’s software grid.

Loaner laptops

If you don’t have a computer that meets the minimum requirements outlined above, IS&T offers a limited number of loaner laptops to students for academic use. If you need a loaner laptop, request it as soon as possible, as the demand for them is high.

Mobile devices

There is no required mobile OS per se for phones or tablets; IS&T supports the Android, iOS, and Windows 10 mobile platforms. You may also want to browse our discounts on cellphone plans.

Additional resources

For answers to other questions about computing at MIT, check out these resources before you arrive on campus:

IS&T’s website,, is a goldmine of information regarding everything IT at MIT. It even has a Students page to help you get started. There you can find a checklist of things to do as a new student, like signing up for Kerberos, Duo, and more.

The Knowledge Base at is MIT’s searchable database of IT information. There you’ll find how-tos and FAQs on almost any IT topic. For example, you can learn how to install a certificate and read more about Kerberos.

The MIT Mobile app is another handy resource. It offers the latest MIT news, iby-the-minute shuttle schedules, dining options, and more. Download it to your phone, and poke around …it’s free!

Finally, be sure to follow IS&T on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and/or Snapchat (username: mit_ist) to get important news and updates about IT at MIT.

Watch for more informational blog posts for incoming freshman and contact IS&T if you have any IT questions or concerns.