Introduction to Using Computers at UTSA

This web page is intended for students in CS 2073, section 2, Computer Programming with Engineering Applications, as an introduction to using the systems that a UTSA student is most likely to encounter at school.

The World Wide Web

If you are reading this document, then you are already somewhat aquainted with a World Wide Web browser. There are two types of Web browsers: graphical and text-based. There are many graphical browsers you may encounter; the most popular are Netscape, Mosaic, and Internet Explorer. I will refer to them all generically as Netscape, since that seems to be the one everybody uses. The text-based Web browser used on Unix systems is called lynx. Press the space bar in lynx, or use the down arrow key in Netscape, to see more of this page. You can go back up using the up-arrow in either Netscape or lynx.

The Web is a way to access information from computers all around the world using a browser like the one you're using. Certain underlined words or phrases, or pictures in the text can be selected by clicking on them using a graphical browser, or moving around with the up and down arrow keys and pressing RETURN or ENTER when the word you want is highlighted. Try that with this phrase.

Some of the text you select may show you files located on computers in other parts of the country or even other countries. If you get lost, don't panic; you can always quit using the 'q' key in lynx or choose File/Exit from the graphical browsers and then restart your session. For detailed help on using Web browsers, choose Help. In lynx, you just type 'h' for help. In Netscape, click on the word "Help" in the far upper right corner of the Netscape window. As you become more comfortable with the Web, you'll learn ways of moving around, searching for interesting information, etc.

The MS Computer Lab

The MS Computer Lab, located in the first floor of the MS building (the part of the building on the ground floor closest to the new University Center) has two different kinds of computing equipment that you may use. It has personal computers and VT320 terminals. The personal computers (PCs) may be used for Web browsing using Netscape. They are mainly intended for people in the Microcomputer Applications class and other classes that require PC-type applications such as word processing, spreadsheets, etc. Computer science majors typically don't use those programs for classwork. The VT320 terminals allow you to connect to (among other things) the computer system known as runner. runner is a Sun computer capable of supporting many users at the same time. It runs the Unix operating system and is the platform for which introductory computer science students should write their programs.

As of Spring 1997, there are six new SPARCstation computers in the MS lab that you may also use for your assignments. They are the important-looking computers on the left as you enter the lab. There are instructions posted by each station that tell how to log on to the terminal. From there, you can log on to runner with the telnet command at the Unix prompt; simply type telnet runner; you will see a login prompt and can log in as usual (see below). Also, you may be able to use the Web browser you retrieved this document with to log in to runner; just go to the URL telnet:// to start a log in session (it should work if you just click on the highlighted URL above). If you're using the PCs to log in to runner this way and there is a free VT320, please use the VT320; you can use both but PC users can only use the PCs, so it's nice to let them have a break.

The BB Computer Lab

The Business Building also has a computer lab on the first floor. Students in inroductory classes may use this lab for assignments, also.

The Runner System

When you take your first CS class, such as CS 1073, CS 2073, or CS 1713, an account will be created for you on runner. To begin using runner (a process called logging in ), do the following: At this point, you are logged into runner, and you are "in" a program called a shell. Depending on when you got your account, you may be either in the Korn shell or the C shell. For our purposes, they are not much different, but it will become in the future important to know which one you're using. The shell allows you to interact with the computer by typing in commands and configuring your account so it fits your needs. Here is a list of commands you can type in at the % or $ prompt on runner. To use them, type the name of the command along with any additional parameters , i.e., other information the command may need, and then press RETURN or ENTER. Note: Unix is a case-sensitive environment. That means that if you type something in uppercase that is supposed to be in lowercase, you will probably not get the behavior that you expect. You may select each of the following commands to go to the section of the page that deals with it: