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   indigo unix notes

Indigo Unix Notes

Indigos run a windowing system, but are rather different from Macintoshes or PCs running Windows. Usually, the computer is concentrating on the window that contains the mouse pointer. Be careful not to move it by accident.

Logging on

Type your user ID in the User Name box, press Enter, then type your password and press Enter. Your password should not be visible on the screen. If you cannot type your user ID, this is probably because the mouse is in the wrong place. Check the mouse pointer is in the box in which you are typing.


When you have logged on, you have nothing to type into. You get a window by moving the mouse to the top left of the screen. Here are some boxes, called the Toolchest. Go to the word Tools. Hold down the left mouse button. A menu should appear. Drag the mouse to Shell, and release the left mouse button. In a few moments, a window should appear. Click the left button to position the window. Move the pointer into the window to start typing.

Logging out

Go to the Toolchest. Move the mouse pointer to the word System. Hold down the left mouse button. A menu should appear. Drag the mouse to Log Out and release the button. A dialogue box will appear asking if you really want to log out. Click Yes.

N.B. If you close all the windows, but do not log out in this way, you are still logged in. If you leave the computer, someone else could easily delete all you files.

Elementary Unix

Remember that Capital letters and small letters are different; * is a wildcard

  • lslist files in current directory (as dir (VMS/DOS)). ls A* lists all files beginning with the letter 'A' - capital only. ls *.dat lists all files ending with '.dat'
  • cat show the contents of a file (like type, or print)
  • more like cat, but stops when screen is full. Press 'space' for another screen full, 'q' to exit.
  • jot This is a simple text editor, which lets you alter the contents of your files. Type 'jot filename' to edit a file. A window will appear containing your file, which you can type into. Choose 'Save' from the File menu to save any changes you make.
  • cp filename1 filename2 Makes a copy of a file
  • rm filename Removes a file (del for DOS, delete for VMS). You can use wildcards, but be careful not to delete all your files.
  • Filenames may contain most characters, but many programs will be confused if you include punctuation, mathematical symbols or spaces. It is best to stick to letters and numbers. Upper and lower case letters are distiguished. If you want to use a space, a minus sign - or an underscore _ is a useful substitute.


The Unix help command is man. Try 'man commandname' to get more information about the commandname. Man only works if you already know the name of the command. If you are not sure about the name, try 'apropos command-name'.

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department of chemistry University of Cambridge