Big W Help


Most everyone will want to check out at least a little bit of the Basic Unix commands section, but mostly you can just read the topics that are of interest to you. Hopefully this document will be helpful. Drop me a note if you have any questions.

Basic Unix commands

When you log in to Big W, you will see a prompt like the following:

The prompt shows you the pathname of the directory that you are currently in. When you log in, the default directory is your home directory, which is at /u/your_username.

Unix commands are case sensitive, and with few exceptions, they are lower-case.

One useful thing before we get to the actual commands: when typing filenames or names of programs, you can type the first few characters of the name, and then press <tab>. The filename will be completed for you as much as it can be. So, if I have a directory called public_html, and I have no other files that begin with a p, then I can type p<tab> and public_html will appear on the screen. This is really useful for long filenames. Play around with it and you'll get the idea fairly quickly.

The following are some useful commands...

Using e-mail (Pine)

The e-mail program installed on Big W is called Pine. To get to it, type pine. Pine is a very intuitive program, and there's not a whole lot I have to say about it except look at the bottom of the screen if you get lost. It has a list of available commands which should be fairly easy to use.

I am planning to install a POP server on Big W which would allow everyone that has an account on it to use Netscape's e-mail program. However, I don't know when this is going to happen. In the mean time, Pine is an excellent substitute.

There is actually a second e-mail program installed that you can access by typing mail from the command line. I don't reccommend using it. If you get into it by accident, just type q to exit.

If you just want to send a quick note, you can do it from the command line by typing mail address where address is the person's e-mail address. This puts you in an extremely simple editor. You cannot edit a line once you have pressed return! When you are done, press Control-D on a line by itself. If you want to kill the letter, type Control-C twice.

That's it! E-mail is really very easy to use.

Text Editors

There are two text editors installed on Big W: vi (which stands for visual editor) and Pico.

vi is what all the Unix gurus use. However, it's fairly cryptic, and I don't feel like taking the time to write out documentation on it. So, I recommend using Pico, which is the same text editor that is used in Pine, the e-mail system which is installed on Big W.

You can use Pico by typing pico filename or edit filename where filename is the name of the file you want to edit. (If the file doesn't already exist, a new file will be opened.) Like Pine, Pico is basically intuitive, so I'll let you figure it out. :-)

If you really want to use vi, type vi filename. If you get into vi and can't figure out how to quit, you can get out by typing <esc>:q<return>.

Compilers available on Big W

For your enjoyment, the compiler installed on Big W, gcc, can compile programs you write in C, C++, Objective C, and FORTRAN.

To use the compiler, edit your code using Big W's text editor, or edit it somewhere else and then upload it to Big W. To compile your code in C, type gcc -o outfile infile.c, where outfile is the filename of where you want the compiled program to be stored, and infile.c is the name of the source code you are compiling.

To compile C++ code, type g++ -o outfile infile.c.

I don't know Objective C or FORTRAN, so I don't know offhand what the command is to compile code written in those languages.

So for example, suppose I have a C program called myFirstProgram.c. To compile it, I would type

Now, the executable program is stored in myFirstProgram. To run it, I type
It's that easy.

One last note: If your program crashes, it will sometimes say "core dumped". This means what's called a core file was generated. You'll want to delete this file by typing rm core since it usually takes up a fair amount of disk space.

This page was created and is maintained by Brighten Godfrey.

Powered by Apache