Your Account

Since almost all UNIX systems are multi user systems you will need to have a logon name and password to authenticate yourself to the system. At UMBC, when you sign-up for a GL (myUMBC) account, you are given a username and password, which is your means of logging on to any computer system, be it UNIX, Windows or Mac.

Where is UNIX / Linux available?

As mentioned there are many labs in the Engineering/Computer Science (ECS) building where there are dual boot-able Windows 2000 and Linux PCs. You can simply reboot one of these machines and select Linux as the operating system. There are also a couple of other places across the campus where you can sit directly in front of a UNIX computer. UMBC's Office of Information Technology (OIT) maintains a list of the labs it maintains as well as descriptions about the operating systems in those labs. This list is online at http://www.umbc.edu/oit/classroomtechnology/labs/lablocation.html.

Rebooting from Windows to Linux on a GL PC

If the PC that you decide to sit down in front of is a dual boot-able PC in on of the labs specified in the above link and it is currently running Windows, follow these steps to reboot the PC into Linux...

  1. Press Control-Alt-Delete as if you were going to login to Windows.
  2. When the login dialog box is displayed, press the Shutdown button on the right hand side.
  3. Depressing this button will bring up the Shutdown dialog box, click on Shutdown and Restart.
  4. When the machine reboots use the down arrow to choose Linux and press Enter.
  5. This will boot the PC into Linux, eventually giving you the logon screen.

Logging in

Once you have rebooted the computer into Linux, you are prompted with a logon screen.

  1. Type in your username then press Tab
  2. Then enter you password
  3. Lastly you have the option to choose you session type, you can choose from Gnome, KDE, or failsafe. Choose either Gnome or KDE. Failsafe is similar to Windows safe-mode for those of you that may be familiar with that.

UNIX History

The UNIX operating system was born in the late 1960's. It originally began as a one man project lead by Ken Thompson of Bell Labs and has since grown to become the most widely used operating system.

In the time since UNIX was first developed, it has gone through many different generations and even mutations. Some differ substantially from the original version, like Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) or Linux. Others, still contain major portions that are based on the original source code.

An interesting and rather up to date time line of these variations of UNIX can be found at http://www.levenez.com/unix/history.html.

UNIX as an Operating System

In general most UNIX operating systems have the following characteristics...

UNIX Interfaces

There are really 2 means of connecting to UNIX computers here at UMBC.

  1. You can be sitting in front of a dual boot-able PC that you have booted into Linux and logged onto. All of your commands are then being run locally on that computer. When you logon in this manner you have a full GUI environment.
  2. You can connect remotely to one of the UNIX servers (whether from home or at the labs). This is often how your projects are suggested to be developed as they are graded on those same servers. When you logon in this manner you have a command line (or text based) environment. You can also open up a command line on local lab machines as well.

GUI Interface

As mentioned when you logon locally, you are presented with graphical environment. When you reboot a windows you get a graphical login screen. You must enter in your username and password. You also the have the option to choose from a couple session types. Mainly you have the choice between Gnome and KDE. Once you enter in your username and password, you are then presented with a graphical environment that looks like one of the following...



Command Line Interface

As I mentioned you also have access to some UNIX servers as well. You can logon from virtually any computer that has Internet access whether it be Windows, Mac or UNIX itself. In this case you are communicating through a local terminal to one of these remote servers, where all of the actions are actually being executed. Typically this is done solely via the command prompt (or line). It is also possible to open up graphical applications through this window, but that requires a good bit more setup and software (for those interested take a look at http://xfree86.cygwin.com/).

Last modified on Friday, 30-Jan-2004 15:54:01 EST by Daniel J. Hood
Email: dhood2@cs.umbc.edu
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