Intro to Unix

Getting Started

The purpose of this lesson is to introduce you to the basics that you will need to get started using Unix.

How do I start using Unix?

In order to use Unix, you have to have an account on some computer that runs a Unix-like operating system. When you have this account, you'll have a username and a password. The username and password give you the ability to access (or login) to the account.

Once you login to the account, you'll get a Unix prompt. This is the computer's way of telling you it is ready to take your command. At the Unix prompt, you'll enter Unix commands to do file management, text editing, or email. The computer will do these commands. You'll be using Unix.

Some Unix computers or terminals use a windowing system, whereby your Unix session appears on the screen where you can run various application programs using a graphical user interface. Even in this case, however, you'll still have a Unix window with a Unix prompt to take commands.

Unix is an operating system, and so it serves as the intermediary between you and the hardware and software resources of the computer.

What do you mean Unix-Like?

The term Unix is actually a generic one to stand for a family of operating systems that share similar characteristics. Unix is therefore said to come in many flavors, and many of those names are registered trademarks. We'll use the term "Unix" in these lessons to stand for Unix in the generic sense.

Am I going to have to worry about Unix flavors in this course?

No. The lessons in this course cover very basic commands and features that work nearly the same in all Unix flavors. At this beginning course level, you don't have to worry too much about the flavor of Unix you are using.

Why Unix?

Unix is a popular operating system on many computer systems. Many Web servers use Unix. Unix-like operating systems (such as Linux) are rapidly gaining in popularity.

To be able to accomplish many kinds of tasks having to do with computers on college campuses and in many organizations, basic Unix skills are essential.

People use Unix for: document processing, storage, programming, electronic communication, business, etc.

Exercise: Describe your needs for Unix

Do you want to have your own Web site? Use the Internet? Send and receive email? Create files?

Next: Let's now take a look at Big Picture of how Unix fits into the world of computers.

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