This page covers two major topics:

Using the Linux Lab Virtual Environments

The School of Computing offers two options for virtualizing our standard lab environment on your own computer. For this course, you must have one of these two virtual environments working on your own computer, either the VDI or Virtual Box, details below.

The Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) allows you to run a standard School of Computing Ubuntu Linux desktop on an ANU server with the desktop visible on your home computer as if it were running locally on your computer. By contrast, Virtual Box creates a virtual machine (VM) that runs on your home computer, configured (or configurable) to exactly match the School of Computing Ubuntu Linux Desktop.

The simplest option is to use the VDI, so we recommend this unless you have a strong reason to use Virtual Box. We also strongly encourage you to install the COMP1110 tools natively on your own computer (instructions below), so that you can work without depending on either a virtual desktop (which depends on good connectivity to ANU) or a virtual machine (which may impose a significant load on your system).

Linux Labs VDI

The School of Computing provides a virtual desktop environment for all students and staff. The VDI is a small piece of software that runs on your computer that allows you to run a virtual desktop that is identical to the desktop on one of our physical servers at ANU. To use the Linux Lab VDI, you must carefully follow these steps:

  1. You must be connected to ANU via the GlobalProtect VPN. If you have not already installed GlobalProtect, you should follow the instructions provided by the University.
  2. You can access the VDI either directly via a browser (using this link), or by installing the VDI client software, VMWare Horizon, following the instructions provided by the University. Note that the university instructions will set you up to use the standard ANU Microsoft Windows client (which we do not use in our course, but which may be useful in other ANU courses).
    • If you use the client, once you have the VMWare Horizon client installed and working, you need to add the School of Computing VDI as a server. The way to do this varies depending on your operating system (please see the ITS instructions). The server address you need to add is
  3. Now you should be able to create a connection, and you’ll see a login screen just like in ANU’s physical labs, and will see the standard Ubuntu image. (If you just see a blank screen that may be due to you using a second monitor. I suggest that you attempt the next step even if your screen is black.)
  4. Finally, if you are using the client and VMWare Horizon is in full-screen mode, you will probably want to move it into a single window. This step may be important in order to screen share with your tutor, which will be important in the labs. To move out of full-screen mode:
    • Move your mouse to the top edge of the VDI screen. The VMWare Horizon menu should appear. Once it does, you can choose the Window menu and uncheck the “Full Screen” option.
    • If you still see blank screens, move to another app (on Windows hold down the ALT key and press the space bar; on MacOS hold down the CMD key and press the window), and then move your mouse back to VDI.

Important: Please note that the VDI is available 6:00am to 12:00am AEST, 7 days a week (see here for further information).

Some known issues and workarounds:

  • GlobalProtect gets stuck ‘Connecting’ on MacOS. You need to enable Palo Alto Network as a trusted developer:
    • From your Mac endpoint, launch System Preferences
    • Open the Security & Privacy preferences and then select General
    • Click the lock icon on the bottom left of the window to make changes and modify preferences
    • When prompted, enter your Mac User Name and Password and then Unlock the preferences
    • Click “Allow” next to the message “System software from developer “Palo Alto Networks” was blocked from loading.”
  • Once you connect to the VDI you just get black screens.
    • If you are using an external monitor (dual monitors), you may need to disconnect one of the monitors. Once you turn off full-screen mode (see above)

Virtual Box

Although we recommend you use the VDI, the School of Computing also supports a virtual machine installation of the lab environment using Virtual Box.

Accessing Lab Computers Remotely

In addition to the above, you can directly access the Linux lab computers. You are unlikely to need to do this in COMP1110.

Support and Help for the Linux Lab Environment

Since GlobalProtect, VMWare Horizon, the Linux Lab VDI and VirtualBox are all ANU-supported software platforms, if you run into trouble, you should use Service Desk to log an issue.

Installing Tools For Your Home Environment

Please take the time to read the following important notice before looking for tools for your home environment.

Like most other computer science courses at ANU, this course is designed on the assumption that you will use the environment provided by ANU (physically or virtually). ANU staff provide technical support for both virtual and physical laboratory environments, and we have done our best to ensure that that environment works well in every respect. When the lab systems are not working, you should inform your tutor and report the problem via the ANU Service Desk.

All practical work for this course can be completed using freely available tools that run on most operating systems. For your convenience, we provide basic installation instructions below.

Please understand that your personal computing environment is not supported by ANU.

We cannot support your personal computing environment because each environment may differ in ways that are outside of our control.

If you plan to use your own environment, please follow these steps:

  1. Use the advice provided on these web pages to identify the appropriate tools, and how to install them.
  2. Complete the Lab 1 exercises in week one and bring any questions that arise to any of the week one labs.
  3. Use Piazza to seek help from others in the class.
  4. Seek help from your tutor during your scheduled lab.
  5. Seek help from your lecturer via Piazza or before and after lectures.
  6. Seek help from the Computer Science Student’s Association (CSSA), who explicitly set out to help their members with matters such as setting up home computers.

All of the software tools you need are provided as part of the standard environment in the Linux labs but are also freely available for Linux, Windows and MacOS X, so if you wish to work on your own computer, you can easily do so. Please read the notice above before following the instructions below.

If you are using Ubuntu, you can install all necessary software from the CECS Teaching Labs Repository.

We will do our best to support anyone using these standard tools. You are welcome to use alternatives (such as a different IDE, etc.), but you should not expect any support when you run into trouble using non-standard tools. For that reason, we strongly recommend that you stick to the supported tools unless you are confident in your ability to resolve any problems that may arise with non-standard tools. Furthermore, as the lab tests will be conducted in the lab environment, you will need to be proficient with the standard tools for the lab tests, regardless of which tools you choose to use at home.


If you wish to develop code on your own computer, you should ensure that you have the Java Development Kit (JDK) version 15. After downloading the correct version of the JDK for your platform:

  • Unzip/untar/install the JDK to an appropriate location, e.g.
    • Windows: C:\Program Files\AdoptOpenJDK
    • Mac: /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines
    • Linux: /usr/local/openjdk
  • Set the PATH environment variable to include the bin directory of your JDK installation.
  • Set the JAVA_HOME environment variable to the top-level directory of your JDK installation (on MacOS, something like /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/adoptopenjdk-15.jdk/Contents/Home/)
  • Verify the version of your installation by typing java -version (the output should start with openjdk version "15").


From JDK 11 onward, JavaFX is no longer included as a standard part of the JDK and must be installed as a separate module. To do this, you must download JFX for your operating system.

  • Use the following download links:
    • MacOS
    • Windows
    • Linux After downloading a version of the JavaFX Software Development Kit for your platform (the version number must match the JDK version, i.e. 15):
  • Unzip the JavaFX SDK to an appropriate location, e.g. (you can use a different location, but if you do, you must set your PATH_TO_FX accordingly!).
    • MacOS: /Library/Java/
    • Windows: C:\Program Files\Java
    • Linux: /usr/local
  • Set the PATH_TO_FX environment variable to point to the lib directory of your JavaFX installation, e.g.:
    • MacOS: /Library/Java/javafx-sdk-15.0.1/lib
    • Windows: C:\Program Files\Java\javafx-sdk-15.0.1\lib
  • Linux: /usr/local/openjfx/lib
  • Verify your JavaFX installation by compiling and running the HelloFX example as described in the OpenJFK installation instructions.


IntelliJ is a powerful commercial IDE. We use version 2020.3.2 (download here) of the open source Community Edition, and at home you may either get a free student license to use the “Ultimate Edition”, or else use the open-source “Community Edition” (download links for MacOS, Windows, and Linux) (There is no significant difference as far as this course is concerned; the Community Edition is perfectly adequate). JetBrains has extensive online documentation, including some great video tutorials. We strongly recommend you start with their introductory video on Running IntelliJ IDEA for the First Time. The introduction to using version control systems in IntelliJ is also very helpful.

IntelliJ for the first time you will be asked to configure the Java SDK. The Java SDK’s location will be machine-specific. Typically on MacOS you will find it at /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/adoptopenjdk-15.jdk/. On Windows it will most likely be C:\Program Files\AdoptOpenJDK\jdk-15.0.1-hotspot, or C:\Program Files (x86)\AdoptOpenJDK\jdk-15.0.1-hotspot. If you can’t see it in those places, try using the file finder of your operating system to search for jdk-15 or jdk15.

If you did not set up the SDK when you first started IntelliJ (perhaps because you were setting it up for Haskell), you can set it up afterwards by navigating from File -> Project Structure... select the Project tab under Project Settings, and then select Project SDK. Navigate to the location of your Java installation (as per the paragraph above).

You must also set a path variable to point to your JavaFX installation directory. Select File -> Settings... -> Appearance and Behavior -> Path Variables and then add a new path variable (select the plus sign) with name PATH_TO_FX and value equal to the path to your JavaFX installation lib directory e.g. on Windows: C:\Program Files\Java\javafx-sdk-15.0.1\lib.


We use GitLab and Git. For this to work, you must have Git installed on your computer. You should find this already installed on most MacOS and Unix platforms (type git --version at the command line to check). However, you will most likely need to install it yourself if you’re using Windows. Follow the instructions on the Git downloads page. If you run into trouble using Git from within IntelliJ on Windows, select File -> Settings -> Version Control -> Git, then manually set the Path to Git executable (should be something like C:\Program Files (x86)\Git\cmd\git.exe)).

Updated:    30 Jun 2021 / Responsible Officer:    Director, School of Computing / Page Contact:    Josh Milthorpe