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This chapter is from the book


The Workshop summarizes the key terms you’ve learned and poses some questions about the topics presented in this lesson. It also provides you with a preview of what you will learn in the next hour.

Key Terms

  • account name This is the official one-word name by which the Unix system knows you; mine is taylor. (See also account in Hour 1, “What Is This Unix Stuff?”)
  • domain name Unix systems on the Internet, or any other network, are assigned a domain within which they exist. This is typically the company (for example, microsoft.com for Microsoft Corporation) or institution (for example, lsu.edu for Louisiana State University). The domain name is always the entire host address, except the hostname itself. (See also hostname.)
  • heuristic An approach or a procedure for accomplishing a specific task, not guaranteed of success but widely accepted as providing good results for relatively little effort. Think “rule of thumb.”
  • hostname Unix computers all have unique names assigned by the local administration team. The computers I use are limbo, well, netcom, and mentor, for example. Enter hostname to see what your system is called.
  • login A synonym for account name, this also can be a verb (when it’s two words: log in) that refers to the process of connecting to the Unix system and entering your account name and password for your account.
  • user ID (uid) This is the numeric equivalent of the account name, which the system uses for internal bookkeeping.


  1. Why can’t you have the same account name as another user? How about user ID? Can you have the same uid as someone else on the system?
  2. Which of the following are good passwords, based on the guidelines you’ve learned in this hour?

    foobar     4myMUM     Blk&Blu
    234334     Laurie     Hi!
    2cool.     rolyat     j j kim
  3. Are the results of the two commands who am i and whoami different? If so, explain how. Which do you think you’d rather use when you’re on a new computer?
  4. List the three Unix commands for finding out who is logged in to the system. Describe about the differences between the commands.
  5. One of the commands in the answer to question 4 indicates how long the system has been running. (In the example, it had been running for seven days.) What value do you think there is for keeping track of this information?
  6. If you can figure out what other people are doing on the computer, they can figure out what you’re doing, too. Does that bother you? Why or why not?

Preview of the Next Hour

The next hour focuses on the Unix hierarchical file system. You’ll learn about how the system is organized, how it differs from Windows and Macintosh hierarchical file systems, the difference between relative and absolute filenames, and the mysterious . and .. directories. You’ll also learn about the env, pwd, and cd commands, as well as the HOME and PATH environment variables.

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