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University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory
Unix Tools
Computer Laboratory > Course material 2006-07 > Unix Tools

Unix Tools

Principal lecturer: Dr Markus Kuhn
Taken by: Part IB


This non-examinable 8-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 on 2006 October 5–31, 11:00–12:00 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 SUSE Linux 9.3. 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 pwf-linux@ucs.cam.ac.uk [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 (Debian, Mandriva, Novell/SUSE, RedHat/Fedora, Gentoo, Knoppix, Ubuntu), NetBSD, FreeBSD, 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 SUSE Linux on your PC. (The instructions and links are for SUSE Linux 9.3, which is what the PWF uses, but work similarly for newer releases):

First make sure you have space for a generous new harddisk partition. While a minimal system can be installed in as little as 200 MB, partition sizes of 1–4 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 FIPS.

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

Directly from the network: If your PC is connected to the the Cambridge University Data Network:

  • Prepare the SUSE 9.3 installation boot CD by burning the image boot.iso. This can be done using any CD writing application, on a Linux machine for example with with xcdroast, k3b, or the good old cdrecord.
  • After having booted that, load the necessary kernel module for your Ethernet card, set your IP address, and then configure as the “installation source medium” the Computing Service server that stores the remaining installation files:
    • protocol: NFS
    • server name: nfs-uxsup.csx.cam.ac.uk
    • directory: linux/suse/i386/9.3
  • To perform online updates after the initial installation is complete, use in the YaST Online Update tool the settings
    • protocol: NFS
    • server name: nfs-uxsup.csx.cam.ac.uk
    • directory: linux/suse
    to fetch these also from a local Computing Service server.
  • More information can be found in the SUSE User Guide and Administration Guide.

New: local openSUSE 10.2 mirror (or via NFS: nfs-uxsup.csx.cam.ac.uk:linux/opensuse/10.2/repo/{oss,non-oss})

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 another server.

From self-made CDs/DVD: Alternatively, you can burn yourself the full five CDs or the single DVD from the ISO images provided by the Computing Service. The same server hosts also various Unix/Linux software available under campus licence. See also the Installing Novell SUSE Linux in Cambridge page there.

From bought CDs/DVD: Finally, boxed sets of these CDs with printed manuals are available in various computer stores in town (PCWorld, Maplin, etc.).