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Introducing Unix

Included on this page:

Unix is the operating system of choice for thousands of government agencies, businesses, and universities. Its growing popularity stems from the fact that Unix combines many useful features:

Why Should I Learn Unix?

Some people learn Unix as a class requirement, others learn Unix because it is the operating system on computers they use, while others learn Unix to create and store files for World Wide Web pages. But most importantly, people learn Unix because it is a powerful tool.

Conventions Used for Commands in This Document

Italic indicates a variable that you must supply
Bold indicates exactly what you type

Logging In and Out

Before you can use a Unix, you must log in.

To begin your session:

  1. Connect to your Unix computer.
  2. Enter your userid at the login prompt.
  3. Enter your password at the password prompt. A system prompt appears, and you can begin your session.

To end your session, enter:


Finding Unix Information

If you are like most users, you occasionally have questions. At the University of Washington, the first place to look for help is online. You can also find books on Unix in the library or local book stores.

Online Help

Online help is a quick and convenient way to find information.

Manual Pages

The Unix online manual pages or "man pages" provide a source of information. Man pages contain information about command usage, syntax, options, and bugs. Using the man command, you can display this information for almost every Unix command.

To display the manual page for a command, at the system prompt, enter:

    man  command

This displays the manual page for the command you specify. Use <Spacebar> to scroll forward one page, <Return> to forward scroll one line, and q to quit.

To search for a command by keyword use the -k option, enter:

    man -k keyword

This searches the man pages for the keyword you specify and displays the command names that contain more information about the keyword.

To search the manual pages for a command that displays a calendar, enter:

    man -k calendar

This finds several commands that relate to the keyword "calendar" including the cal command, which displays a calendar.