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CS 368-2 (2012 Spring) — Notes for Beginners

If you are new to programming and/or running programs from the command line, there are some basic things you need to know:

Remote Logins

When we start using CHTC, everyone will need to access a certain Linux computer over the network. This is generally called remote access or remote login. However, especially if you are using Windows, you may want to set up your CSL account now and use remote access to work on a Linux instructional computer anyway.

In either case, here are some basics:

  1. Get a CSL account

    This was described in the slides for the first day of class. If you have used a CSL account in the past, you probably still have it. If not, head down to the CSL instructional labs (the “mumble” lab seems like a good choice), and follow the instructions on-screen.

  2. If you are using Windows, get a free remote-access application

    We recommend a free download called PuTTY, but really all you need is something that can use the SSH protocol to connect to a remote machine.

  3. Try accessing your account

    On Mac OS X, use the Terminal application; on Windows, use PuTTY or equivalent. These applications all look a bit different from each other, but generally speaking, you need to provide three pieces of information:

    The CSL documentation has more information.

Editing Code

In this class, you must be able to create, edit, and save to disk Python and other files. Applications like Microsoft Word will not work for this purpose, because they add lots of extra, hidden stuff to the text that you actually see on screen. What you need is generally called a “text editor”, ideally one made for editing program files like Python. Here are some options and further resources:

Using the Command Line

Typically in Windows, Mac OS X, and even Linux, users interact with the computer and its programs using windows, menus, buttons, and other graphical interfaces. However, for the kind of programming that we are doing, we will be using the command line, a purely text-based way to run programs and view their output.

You will certainly need to use the command line for this course. On Mac OS X, use the Terminal application. On Windows, you could probably get by for the first half of the classes using the Windows command line, but I know nothing about it (it is different than the ones in Unix, Linux, and Mac OS X); it is best to get remote access to your instructional (Linux) account and use that.

Assuming you are new to the command line, you need to learn some basic concepts and commands. Here are a few resources that I have found that look helpful: