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Getting started#


To start using Sherlock, you will need:

  • an active SUNet ID,

    What is a SUNet ID?

    A SUNet ID is a unique 3-8 character account name that identifies you as a member of the Stanford community, with access to the Stanford University Network of computing resources and services. Not to be confused with University ID (a 8-digit number that appears on your Stanford ID Card), your SUNet ID is a permanent and visible part of your Stanford identity and often appears in your Stanford email address (eg.

    SUNet IDs are not managed by Research Computing. For more information, see

    SUNet ID service levels and external collaborators

    Base-level service is sufficient for Sherlock accounts. External collaborators, or users without a SUNet ID, can be sponsored by a PI a get a sponsored SUNet ID at no cost. Please see the sponsorship page for more information.

  • a Sherlock account,

  • a SSH client,
  • good understanding of the concepts and terms used throughout that documentation,
  • some familiarity with Unix/Linux command-line environments, and notions of shell scripting.

How to request an account#

To request an account, the sponsoring Stanford faculty member should email, specifying the names and SUNet IDs of his/her research team members needing an account.

Sherlock is open to the Stanford community as a computing resource to support departmental or sponsored research, thus a faculty member's explicit consent is required for account requests.

Sherlock is a resource for research

Sherlock is a resource to help and support research, and is not suitable for course work, class assignments or general-use training sessions.

There is no fee associated with using Sherlock, and no limit in the amount of accounts each faculty member can request. We will periodically ensure that all accounts associated with each PI are still active, and reserve the right to close any Sherlock account whose SUNet ID is expired.

SSH clients#

Linux #

Linux distributions usually come with a version of the OpenSSH client already installed. So no additional software installation is required. If not, please refer to your distribution's documentation to install it.

macOS #

macOS systems usually come with a version of the OpenSSH client already installed. So no additional software installation is required

Windows #

Microsoft Windows includes a SSH client by default, that can be used to connect to Sherlock from a Windows terminal.

Windows also has a feature called the "Windows Subsystem for Linux" (WSL), which provides a Linux-like experience and make switching across systems more seamless. Please refer to the official documentation or this HOWTO for installation instructions.

The two options above will ensure the best compatibility with the Sherlock environment. If you'd like to explore other avenues, many other SSH client implementations are available, but have not necessarily been tested with Sherlock, so your mileage may vary.

Unix/Linux resources#

A full tutorial on using Unix/Linux is beyond the scope of this documentation. However, there are many tutorials for beginning to use Unix/Linux on the web.

A few tutorials we recommend are:

More specifically about HPC and Research Computing:

Text editors#

Multiple text editors are available on Sherlock. For beginners, we recommend the use of nano. And for more advanced uses, you'll also find below some resources about using vim

Note: you can also create/edit files with the Sherlock OnDemand File editor

Shell scripting#

Compute jobs launched on Sherlock are most often initialized by user-written shell scripts. Beyond that, many common operations can be simplified and automated using shell scripts.

For an introduction to shell scripting, you can refer to: