Introduction to UNIX

Getting the most out of the Physics and Astronomy computers will require at least a little knowledge of UNIX. Don't worry, it's painless.

Here are some UNIX commands:

Command Description
lists the files and subdirectories in the current directory
pico filename.txt
a simple text file editor, hit control-X to save and exit
rm filename
removes (deletes) the file called "filename"
cd subdir
change the current directory to subdir
cd .. change directory to the parent directory
without an arguments, this sends you to your home directory
mkdir dirname
make a subdirectory called dirname
rmdir dirname
remove a subdirectory called dirname
sends a postscript file to the printer
view the print queue, and JOBNUMBERS
used to remove a print job from the queue
change your password


Using these commands, you could try the following exercise:

Task Thing to Type
Make a subdirectory called 'animals'
mkdir animals
Go into that new directory
cd animals
Create a text file called cow
pico cow
Now type something bovine and hit control-X
List the file you have created
Print the file
lpr cow
Remove the file you have created
rm cow
List the now empty direcotyr to confirm the deletion
Change to the parent directory again
cd ..
delete the animals directory
rmdir animals


The behavior of UNIX commands can be modified using 'options'. For example, if you want to list not only the 'normal' files, but also the 'hidden' files, try the following:

ls -a

Or to get a more detailed listing of your files, try:

ls -l

To learn more about the options for a given command, try typing:

man commandname

That will get you the online manual page.

If you want to close one of your extra text windows, type:


If you type exit or logout in your primary login window, it will log you out of the system.

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