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Unix Guide - Getting Started

Logging In

To log in to your Unix account, enter your login name at the login: prompt and press RETURN

login: your-login-name

Or, on Macintosh's Terminal application you will enter:


You will now see the Password: prompt


Enter your password exactly and press RETURN. Your password will not be displayed on the screen as you type it. Your login and password are case-sensitive.

You are now logged into the computer and will have a prompt that reflects the computer's name. For example, if you connect to spot, the prompt looks like this:


When you log in, you are running a command interpreter called a shell. The default shell for OIT machines is called the Korn shell. The Korn shell can be customized by editing the .profile file. Type man ksh to find out more about the korn shell and how to customize it.

Change Your Password

If you did not create your own password, the first thing you should do is change your password to something that you will remember. OIT Unix account passwords do not synchronize to an account holder's IdentiKey.

The command for changing your password is passwd. You will be prompted for your old password and then asked to enter your new password twice for verification. Passwords will not appear on the screen as you type them. After you enter the passwd command, you can read the guidelines for creating a suitable password by pressing ?.

spot> passwd
Current password:
New password (? for help):
New password (again):

If you forget one you can go to the IT Service Center located in the Telecommunication Center (east of the UMC) with your Buff OneCard. You must show up in person; passwords are not given over the telephone or through email.

Unix Commands

Unix commands have a general form of:

command [-option] arguments

For example, the ls command lists files and directories. By itself, ls gives a simple list of files.

spot> ls News mbox prog.c tex

If used with the -l ("ell") option, ls gives a long listing of files showing protections, owner, size, and timestamp.

spot> ls -l total 101 drwxr-xr-x 2 woolf 512 Apr 21 15:16 News -rw-r--r-- 1 woolf 26471 Apr 21 15:13 mxob -rw-r--r-- 1 woolf 74075 Apr 18 15:16 prg.c drwxr-xr-x 2 woolf 512 Apr 18 15:16 tex

The ls command has many more options. You can use the man command to find out more about them:

spot> man ls

This will display a manual page describing the ls command in detail.

Below are a few commands to get you started. Remember, Unix commands are case sensitive and usually lowercase. To find out more about each of these commands, type the command you want to find out more about, followed by the command man.

cd -- change directory

chmod -- change protections on files and directories

cp -- make a copy of a file

date -- display the current date and time

finger -- display a list of current users

grep -- print all lines in a file containing a specified string

ls -- list files and directories

man -- display manual pages

mkdir -- make a directory

more -- display contents of a file on screen

mv -- move a file to another name or directory

pico -- create a new text file or edit an existing file

pwd -- print current working directory

rm -- remove a file

talk -- use a visual communication program

trn -- read and post news

vi -- create a new text file or edit an existing file