University of Edinburgh - Welcome Week
  Introduction to Computing in GeoSciences for New Postgraduate Students

IT Resources and How-Tos


  1. Remote Working
  2. Text Editing
  3. GIS Software
  4. Data

Remote Working


All the information on using zoom can be found on the Introduction to Computing in GeoSciences for New Postgraduate Students Introduction Page.


While any remote lectures and practicals are being carried out using Zoom, Teams will also be used for some meetings.

Like Zoom, you may already be using teams, but you need to access it using your University account to ensure that you have access to all the functionality and features.

Installing Teams

Starting Teams and Signing In

Important: To make sure that you can use all the features of Teams we need you to sign in to meetings using your University of Edinburgh account.

  1. After starting the Teams application you will need to sign-in.
  2. Under where it says Enter your Work, School or Microsoft Account enter your university email address.
  3. After a short pause, a browser window will open and prompt you to log in with Your University Login, make sure to use your eg
  4. Once signed you will be shown the University Teams you have access to.


To be able to map you network drives and access some University Services you will need to use a VPN. This means that your computer will be treated as if it were on the University Network even when working from home or other remote location.

The University VPN needs registering for and recommends specific software called FortiClient. The process is detailed on the University Webpages and follows these steps:

  1. Register for the VPN
    (Requires a new and different password to the one you login to MyEd with)
  2. Install the FortiClient Software and configure it for use:
    There are different instructions for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android
    This page also contains some brief info for connecting via VPN software built into some operating systems though they only support the FortiClient software if anything goes wrong.

Mapping Network Drives/Shared Folders

The easiest way to access all the files you will need for your studies or research is to map network drives to your computer, allowing you to open them as if they were on your machine. To be able to do this you will first need to set up the VPN as detailed in the section above and of course you will need to be on the internet. A good connection will help if you are reading or writing large files.

There are three drives to map/folders to connect to in order to cover all the data and areas you will need.

Accessing Shared Folders - Windows PC

On a Windows PC these should be mapped to the G:, M: and U: drives in order to mirror the University computer lab setup as far as possible. If a particular drive letter is unavailable (e.g. mapping netdata to G: will cause issues with e.g. USB peripherals) then feel free to map the drive to an alternative drive letter as required. Alternatively the script at U:\SCE\GEOS\drive_mapping\Access Netdata can be run as and when netdata is required. If desired a shortcut to this can be placed on the desktop and then pinned to the taskbar.

These drives will be referred to however in course materials as G: (netdata), M: (personal GeoScicences home drive/directory), and U: (University drive):

  1. Netdata: this should be mapped to your G: Drive
  2. Homedir: this should be mapped to your M: Drive
  3. University: this should be mapped to your U: Drive

The following procedure should be followed to map the drives on a windows PC:

  1. Connect to the VPN.
  2. Open a File Explorer window then click on This PC in the list on the left side.
  3. You should now see the Computer menu accross the top of the window.
  4. Click on the Map Network Drive button and then select Map Network Drive.
  5. A new window will open, select the Drive letter you want to map from the dropdown list.
  6. Enter the following into the Folder box for each drive:
  7. Check the box to Reconnect at sign in. (Note you will need to be on the VPN for the reconnection to work)
  8. Check the box to Connect using different credentials. (If you don't do this it will try to sign in with the account you logged into your computer, which won't work)
  9. Click Finish.
  10. You will now be prompted to login, use your UUN followed by, e.g.

You will now have the three drives available to use on your computer as long as you remain connected to the VPN.

* Should you have problems accessing \\\dst\shared over a VPN connection then you can try the full address of: \\\csce\geos\groups\geos

The shorter mapping is preferable as it means that your U: filepath will exactly match that of any data file or program located on U: in on-campus computer labs. It is not a critical issue however (and drive letters mean nothing to Mac users!)

Accessing Shared Folders - Apple Mac

To map network shares (drives mean nothing on a Mac!) use the following instructions:

  1. Connect to the VPN.
  2. Switch to the Finder (e.g. click anywhere on the desktop)
  3. Click on ‘Go’ in the menubar then ‘Connect to Server’
  4. Enter the following as the server address for each drive:
  5. Authenticate using your UUN followed by, e.g.

* Should you have problems accessing smb:// over a VPN connection then you can try the full address of: smb://


If you need to use specialist Windows software available within UoE on your home computer but you can’t install it or access the licence then you can use the new Apps.Ed service to run the software remotely.

The apps run reasonably well without so much of the latency experienced when using software remotely on another computer.

Installing the Service

You will need to download and install the Citrix Workspace App to be able to use this service. All the instructions for installing the Citrix software are on the following website:

Once installed it will prompt you for your email or server address:

A window will open with all the apps that are available to use. Running the apps this way is the same as running them on a University machine with all the drives mapped.

Opening a Program

  1. Start the Citrix Workspace from your start menu etc.
  2. Enter your password when prompted
  3. Choose the program you want to run from the list presented.

SSH & SFTP: Moba xTerm

SSH (Secure Shell) allows you to run programs etc. on remote UNIX servers.

SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) allows you to move files around, between your PC and Servers.


MobaXTerm (for Windows PC; Macs can use built-in SSH) offers all of alternative graphical RDP client, local UNIX-like shell on your own PC, and also a basic SSH client for command line access which may be all you need. As it also includes what is called an X-Server, graphical programs will also run as required.

  1. Download the Home edition of the software from this page:
    The installer version will install properly on your computer the Portable version is just an executable that runs fresh every time you click on it.
  2. Once installed, open the program and click on the Session button at the left side of the ribbon.
  3. Choose SSH to run an SSH session or SFTP to move files between servers or your computer.


Putty is a simple yet robust SSH client that is very well used. It can be downloaded from here:

Text Editing

Working with textual data is often best done in a full-blown text editor program. While the likes of Notepad and Wordpad can be used for quick Windows-only uses they are really not up to much rigorous use nor are they any good for working across different computing systems. Instead, programs such as PSPad, and Notepad++ allow you to handle huge file sizes beyond the capacity of Excel and do so without corrupting the data through inclusion of spurious formatting information.


PSPad Editor

GIS & Remote Sensing Software


QGIS can be accessed via Apps.Ed as detailed above, however you can also download and install the software on your own computer and run it from there. QGIS is free OpenSource software so there is no cost to download or use it in any way.

  1. Download the software from here:
  2. The best version to choose is the standalone installer for the long term release, though you might need the latest release for new features.

Once you have the software installed there are several resources to get you started:


ArcMap is available via Apps.Ed as detailed above. If it is really essential it is possible to obtain a copy for use on your personal computer. ArcMap only works on Windows PCs. In most cases it is better to use ArcGIS Pro, so try using this first.

ArcGIS Pro

ArcGIS Pro is available via Apps.Ed as detailed above. If necessary it is possible to obtain a copy for use on your personal computer. ArcGIS Pro only works on Windows PCs.

To download and use ArcGIS Pro on your home computer you first need an ArcGIS User account which can be set up by Geosciences IT:

  1. Email requesting an ArcGIS Online Account with access to download ArcGIS Pro.
  2. Once you have your account set up you can go to the following link:
  3. Login with the details given to you by IT
  4. Download the exe file and double click to install it

If you already have an ArcGIS Online account but can't access the download link then contact and request that your account have the ArcGIS Pro download enabled.

ERDAS Imagine

ERDAS Imagine is available via Apps.Ed as detailed above. If necessary it is possible to obtain a copy for use on your personal computer.


ER Mapper is available via Apps.Ed as detailed above. If necessary it is possible to obtain a copy for use on your personal computer.

Oracle / Oracle Spatial

Oracle is a leading relational database management system and Oracle Spatial is a component of the software that allows you to manage geographical and location data. Oracle is available to use on some of the University servers but not to download and install on your home computer.

More details on accessing Oracle will come in the Spatial Modelling and Analysis course. If you need to know more and are not taking the SMA course please request help from

PostgreSQL / PostGIS

PostgreSQL is an open source object-relational database system and PostGIS is a spatial extension for it. It is avaiable on the University servers and you can download and install it on your home computer.

The software can be downloaded here:

If you are on windows, the easiest way to then add PostGIS is to:

  1. Open the Application Stackbuilder from the start menu: Start --> PostgreSQL --> Application Stackbuilder.
  2. Select your version of PostgreSQL
  3. In the Applications menu select: Categories --> Spatial Extensions --> PostGIS.
  4. Uncheck the option to create a spatial database as this is just an empty one for you to experiment with.
  5. Click yes to Registering the GDAL_Data Environment
  6. Click yes to Enable raster drivers.
  7. Click yes to Enable raster out of db.

For Mac PCs the easiest way is to download the software from, where PostGIS is bundled into the download. Go here for the download file and instructions:



The Service provided by EDINA allows you access to data (for academic purposes only) from the following organisations:

There are tools for viewing, annotating and downloading maps and spatial data. There are also tools for creating some statistical maps too.

You need to register to use the service and agree to all the different licences start here:

UK Census Data Service

If you need census data and the boundaries relevant to that data (they change over time so you need to make sure you have the right ones!) then you can source it from the UK Data Service Census Support Website:

You need to register for this service, put the University of Edinburgh as your organisation and use your Ease Username and Password when prompted.

Once you have logged in all the boundary data can be found here:

This site contains a lot of spatial data and is worth searching if you need something for a project or your dissertation. Not all the data is available to download directly from the site but may be available elsewhere, or if you contact the relevant government body directly. Contact your tutor who will be able to guide you in obtaining data that isn't available to donwload directly from the internet.

Use the serach facility and filters to find what you need, this requires some patience and skill to hone in on what you need so don't give up after one search if nothing comes up.