UNIX/Linux Beginning to Intermediate workshop


2021-01-17, 2021-01-18, 2021-01-19, 2021-01-20


10am to 11am (US/Pacific time)


Mark Galassi


<2021-01-17 00:34:10 markgalassi>

Videocon logistics

The TL;DR on how to connect is that we will use Jitsi for our videoconference. No accounts or registration needed, just go to:


Of course Murphy's law is always hovering above videoconferencing. I will show up early, and you will want to show up early to make sure that all works.

Phone me at +1-505-629-0759 (voice only) if you have any questions. I am happy to receive calls about this at any time of day or night.

We will be "cameras on" at all times.

We will also have an etherpad instance open at:


where we can all write in scratch notes to show each other what we are thinking about.


The most important thing for you to bring is your own experience and techniques that you can share, or your own questions. That will make all the difference.

And if you don't have a chance to do all the prep work below, please join us anyway!

Software prep

The only thing you have to do beforehand is have a way of running a UNIX-like operating system.

If you run a GNU/Linux you are ready.

If you run MacOS then you are also ready, although I recommend that you install the homebrew packaging system which gives access to much of the powerful free/open-source software that Linux users have automatically. Installation instructions are at https://brew.sh/

If you use Windows then there are a few ways to get a shell and the high quality free/open-source tools. The most comprehensive is probably Cygwin at https://www.cygwin.com/ but you could also look at MinGW and (on very recent Windows 10) the "Linux subsystem for Windows".

If you have a chromebook then you are in a weird situation: chromebooks run the linux kernel, but not all of the usual programming tools. Still, you can get a bash shell and people have ported packages. I have not experimented much, but try this link:


it details how to install emacs and all other tools available with the nix packaging system.


Research and scholarship in virtually all areas depend crucially on advanced computing. It started with physics, moved on to other science areas, and today it is true in all social science fields as well as the arts.

Being a power user of your computer is a key advantage: it removes the barriers between your creative/executive mind and the implementation of your ideas.

In this course we will follow the approach of Kernighan and Pike's "The Unix Programming Environment" book and mix a power use of a Linux/Unix system with a knowledge of how one can program that system.

Even if you do not do much programming, having seen these examples of how to program in depth on your system will give you a Tolkien-like "impresison of depth" in how you use software (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impression_of_depth_in_The_Lord_of_the_Rings)