Computer Laboratory

Course material 2010–11

Unix Tools

Principal lecturer: Dr Markus Kuhn
Taken by: Part IB
Syllabus (coming soon)

This non-examinable 10-h lecture course takes you onto a quick tour through a few important and highly useful Unix development tools including the shell, make, Perl and LaTeX. It takes place 2010 October 7 – November 9, 10:00–11:00 in Lecture Theatre 1 of the William Gates Building.

Study materials

All in PDF for easy printing:

Related links

Most of the tools discussed in the course can be explored and used on the PWF Linux installation in the Computer Laboratory’s Teaching Lab, which is currently a customized version of openSUSE Linux 11.2. However, due to home directories residing on a Novell server, PWF Linux has a few quirks and restrictions compared to a typical Unix or Linux system. Problems with PWF Linux should be reported to [but feel free to cc to me (mgk25) as well].

Installing Unix/Linux on your own PC

I like to encourage students who own a PC and are interested in Unix to try out one of the various excellent freely or cheaply available Unix-like operating systems: Linux (Ubuntu/Kubuntu, Novell/openSUSE, Debian, RedHat/CentOS/Fedora, Gentoo, Mandriva, Knoppix, etc.), FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD.

In particular, the Computing Service’s Unix Support runs an FTP and NFS server with all the files and updates for the latest SUSE, Fedora, Debian, and Ubuntu Linux distributions.

The following steps outline briefly, how to install openSUSE Linux on your PC. (The instructions and links are for openSUSE Linux 11.3, the successor of the openSUSE Linux 11.2 release that the PWF uses in 2010–11, and should work similarly for future releases):

First make sure you have space for a generous new harddisk partition. While a minimal system can be installed in as little as 500 MB, partition sizes of at least 2.5 GB are recommended for a full-featured system. If your entire harddisk is already used by another operating system, you may want to reduce the size of an existing partition first. This can be done without reformatting, using tools such as PartitionMagic or GNU Parted.

Then there are three options for getting the software onto your PC:

Directly from the network:

  • Go to the openSUSE download page, select installation medium: “Network”, your type of computer (32-bit PC, 64-bit PC), download method: “Direct Link”.
  • If your PC is connected to the Cambridge University Data Network, then note the filename of the offered ISO image. Instead of downloading it from the provided link, get it from the local Computing Service mirror directory. Burning CD-Rs can be done using any CD writing application, on a Linux machine for example with with xcdroast, k3b, or the good old cdrecord. Alternatively, you can transform the ISO into a bootable USB stick.
  • After having booted that CD or USB stick, configure your network address and then configure as the “installation source medium” the Computing Service server that stores the remaining installation files:
    • protocol: NFS
    • server name:
    • directory: linux/opensuse/11.3/repo/oss
      (addons: linux/opensuse/11.3/repo/non-oss)
  • To perform online updates after the initial installation is complete, add in YaST as the Installation Source also the local Computing Service mirror:
    • protocol: HTTP
    • server name:
    • directory: pub/linux/opensuse/update/11.3
  • More information can be found on the openSUSE download, Network installation and documentation pages.

Using the Computing Service as an installation source will not create network traffic outside Cambridge, for which your college would otherwise be charged. If you are not on the University network, use the regular download site.

From self-made DVD: Alternatively, you can burn yourself the full installation DVD from the ISO images mirrored by the Computing Service. There is also a (possibly not quite up to date) Installing openSUSE/SUSE/Novell Linux page there.

From borrowed medium: you may find that fellow students have already an installation medium that you can use.