One-page Introduction to Unix


Unix is an operating system, meaning you can use it to organize files and directories and to start up applications, such as a browser or a text editor.


In unix, like many other operating systems, directories can store files and other directories.  In this way, you can make a “tree” shape out of directories.  The top-most directory is your home directory; you will already have one existing subdirectory named “ucwise”.  You will need to create more subdirectories, within “ucwise”, to contain homework files, and so forth. 



Directory commands:

mkdir arg

Make a new subdirectory (folder) named arg

rmdir arg

Remove the directory named arg.  (Directory must be empty)

cd arg

Move to the directory named arg, which should be a subdirectory of the current directory.


cd ..

Move to the directory containing the current one (i.e., move “up” a directory)


cd ~

Move to your home directory


Show a listing of the contents of the current directory


ls -l

Get a long listing of the directory



File commands:

cp old new

Make a file, called new, which is a copy of the existing file old.

rm arg

Remove (delete) the file named arg.


rm *

Remove all the files in the current directory

mv old new

Change the name of the file from old to new.



Applications (using programs):



Start up the scheme programming environment STk. 


Startup the Mozilla browser (the “&” means that you will be able to use you unix window even while Mozilla is running).


Start up the emacs editor


emacs arg

Use emacs to edit the file named arg

submit arg

Submit the assignment named arg.  The submit program will try to find the proper files in the current directory.



For further information, see