IRAF can be run on SMU A/P linux servers mars, andromeda, venus, and crux. As it is both a command driven and graphical program it needs to be run from a graphical X-Windows environment. The best way to do this on campus is from the PCs in AT325.


  1. Login to the windows pc using your SMU A/P pc account (ITSS “S” accounts don’t work).
  2. On the desktop, there should be an icon: Xwin32 Broadcast – double-click it.
  3. Choose one of the servers mentioned above from the list of servers shown.
  4. Login with the same username as your pc account. The password is not “synced” with Windows and may be different.
  5. Right-Click on a blank part of the desktop and select Open Terminal.

Those using Macs or other systems supporting an X-Windows environment can connect using ssh using the command 'ssh -X server_name'.

Initial Setup

 A few commands must be run once to setup your account for iraf. Type the following:

     (press enter when prompted for input)

You can edit the file ~/ in a text editor to setup some IRAF defaults. The one line you may want to change is the location to look for images:

set imdir = "change_this_part/"

Be sure to leave a trailing / and be specific (eg. /home/username/????/)

Running IRAF

Each time you want to run IRAF do the following from a Terminal window:


This will cause two windows to pop up, a text window with the startup message and command prompt of “cl”, the IRAF command interpreter and the “SAOds9” image display program linked with IRAF.

Test displaying an image by typing:

display dev$pix

press enter twice (this is a default image of M51 included with IRAF)

To display images larger than 512x512 pixels use the command:

set stdimage=imt2048   (or imt4096, etc.)

(Updated May 2015)

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