Recommended Computer Systems for Students

Note that this is a recommendation, not a requirement.  CS undergraduates will largely program in the Unix operating system (either MacOS X or Linux), and so you should find a laptop which supports this.  We recommend (as of Fall 2021):

  • A laptop weighing no more than six pounds
  • Capable of running Mac OS X or Linux
  • HDMI output. 
  • At least 1280x800 resolution
  • At least 16 GB of RAM 
  • At least 6th generation Intel Core CPU (or equivalent)
  • At least 512 GB of storage (SSD Recommended)
  • At least a 2-year manufacturer's warranty

Accessing GMU Via a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Many GMU resources can only be accessed from off campus via a VPN.  To do this, first set up a VPN client, then tell it that the VPN Server is 

Setting up Email

GMU has a website with instructions to set up and maintain your email account.  The web interface for the mail system is  Additionally, you can manage your spam trap and install whitelists and blacklists.  

To configure your mail program to automatically fill in GMU addresses, you can use the LDAP, with a query string (often labelled "Base DN" or "Search Base") of  SSL port 636, a subtree scope, and Simple authentication with your GMU username and password.

Setting up a Personal Website

GMU's MASON cluster has a web server and where you can create personal websites. GMU maintains a web page with instructions for setting up a website and do web development on it.

Getting Help

GMU's main support page is here. For general GMU lab, networking, or computing facilities issues, you can contact ITS Support at (703) 993-8870 or send email to

The College of Engineering and Computing maintains a website with information on the CEC labs, resources, and policies. For CEC-related problems or problems with Department of Computer Science resources, send email to