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Corning Community College

School of STEM

CSCS1730 UNIX/Linux Fundamentals

Spring 2018

Syllabus / Course Home Page

Instructor:Matthew Haas (
Office Hours:R108: M 12:55pm-1:50pm, MW 02:20pm-03:15pm
Class Desig:unix
Class IRC:#unix
Class Meeting:R108: MW 03:20pm-05:40pm
'W' Drop Date:March 25th, 2018

Course Notes (Wiki):
Mailing List URL:

Course Description

UNIX Operating System basics. The primary emphasis of this course will utilize the command-line environment where students will demonstrate knowledge in the usage of the UNIX shell by moded editing, shell scripting, regular expressions, file manipulation, package management, and related topics.

Students will also become familiar with the X Window System and related components such as the X Server, Window Managers, and Desktop Environments.

(4 cr. hrs.) (Fall, Spring). Prerequisite: CSCS1240 Structured Problem Solving (or be taking), or Instructor Consent.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to demonstrate:

  • familiarity with the structure of UNIX systems
  • the ability to accomplish/automate tasks
  • exposure to command-line tools and utilities
  • experience the connection between UNIX and C
  • understanding of the UNIX philosophy
  • exposure to Open Source concepts and ideals
  • exposure to computer security
  • understanding and use of pattern matching
  • problem solving activities
  • application of shell scripting to perform tasks

Referenced Books

Cover of Harley Hahn's Guide to UNIX and Linux

Harley Hahn's Guide to UNIX and Linux
By: Harley Hahn
Publisher: McGraw Hill
ISBN: 978-0-07-313361-4
Book URL:

UNIX for the Beginning Mage
By: Joe Topjian
Publisher: Joe Topjian
ISBN: 978-1-4116-5433-4
Book URL:


This book is no longer available in print, but is freely available in PDF form. You can download your copy here:

Mages Book PDF

Cover of UNIX for the Beginning Mage

Cover of vi Editor Pocket Reference

vi Editor Pocket Reference
By: Arnold Robbins
Publisher: O'Reilly
ISBN: 9781565924970
Book URL:

Learning the UNIX Operating System, 5th Edition
By: Peek, Todino-Gonguet, Strang
Publisher: O'Reilly
ISBN: 9780596002619
Book URL:

Cover of Learning the UNIX Operating System

Grading Policy

The grading policy is broken down into 4 areas, totalling 104 points (which will account for 100% of the grade): Journal (13pts), Projects (52pts), Participation (13pts), and EoCE (26pts).

Each area, as well as the overall grade, will be evaluated based on a sum of accumulated points on each projects out of a sum of total points on each project (as opposed to a sum of averages on each project). This totaling tends to favor those who consistently do work throughout the semester, and I want to reward that.

Letter Grades

Letter grades are pegged to the following numeric values (out of 100):

  • A (100.00+)
  • A- (94.00-99.99)
  • B+ (88.00-93.99)
  • B (82.00-87.99)
  • B- (76.00-81.99)
  • C+ (70.00-75.99)
  • C (64.00-69.99)
  • D (58.00-63.99)
  • F ( 0.00-57.99)

Any calculated values in excess of two decimal places that may impact the result is at the sole evaluatory discretion of the instructor (for example, getting a 93.997; if you've been a pleasant, decent human being, I may do you a favor. Just sayin'). Application of any 'rounding' or other result processing is also at the sole discretion of the instructor.

Bonus points, if given/available, are applied to a particular grade component (for example, a project bonus point will only pad the projects component of the grade).


To maximize your experience and familiarity with concepts encountered during the course, you will be compiling a document that will be a representation of your activities. This “compendium” of knowledge and experiences will combine both materials you've produced and commentary/reflection/revelation of concepts and ideas you've realized.

This is a great way to keep a written record of your exploits, enabling an informative look back on past activities (especially from future classes!), and being a potential source of information from which others can glean some understanding of ideas or concepts.

For grading purposes, your Journal, this great tome of knowledge, will be reviewed for the following information:

  • entry has been made by that week's deadline (ie week 1's entry done before the Thursday of week 1)
  • course-related information is contained within the appropriately named section
  • at least one significant journal entry per week (or multiple less significant entries)
  • is appropriately descriptive/documents activities/discoveries related to your travels through the course
  • possesses enough itemization to document that a given number of hours was spent on course activities
  • makes connection/reference between documented course activities and course objectives
  • is at least 256 words of relevant, on-topic content
  • default filler text removed in its entirety

Your Journal entries for a given week are due before it becomes Thursday of that week (week 1 content is due before it becomes Thursday of week 1; week 2's content is due prior to the Thursday of week 2, etc.).

At the start of each week (you can consider weeks starting on Thursday), a new week entry will appear (at the top of week entries), and the previous week's entry will become uneditable (yet still readable). You may request to have prior week entries reopened for editing; I disable them by default as many are confused as to what they should be editing.

The intent is to ward off procrastination and treating the Journal as some superfluous course requirement. As such, these deadlines will be strictly enforced. Missing the deadline will result in no credit granted for that week's entry.

Relate to what is going on in class- the topics, what you're doing with them, something you've realized, etc. Excessive irrelevant content (in the absence of any substantial class-related content) risks invalidating the entry.

I am not interested in “English teacher approved” essays- in some courses and settings that is more important. For this course, I want you to be able to effectively convey your thoughts in words- a crucial ability that can later be applied to “proper English essays” (it must still be intelligible though).

And don't worry: You can never write too much in my class.

There will be no make-ups for missed journal entries. Have entries ready by the deadline or lose credit.

NOTE for those taking multiple courses with me: Journal content each week should reflect consideration from ALL courses you have with me. I don't want to see you focusing all your attention on one or two courses, and ignoring others.

In your journal I would like for you to detail your experiences in the course. Summary of experience/class notes; or statements/musings on questions like: Do you understand the material? Is it interesting? Anything not making sense? Any parallels to the real world? and general comments and thoughts.

Use the journal to allow me to see the course through your eyes.


Projects constitute the portion of your grade involving activities you perform in the name of experiencing and demonstrating knowledge in this class- the means by which I will be assessing your understanding of the material through directed explorations of various topics. Such projects may be comprehensive to one another.

Two key products of performing a project are demonstration and documentation. Demonstration is presenting your finished project (that it meets project specifications), to the instructor and being able to respond to any questions on any particular facet therein.

Perhaps more important than demonstration of a working project is the documentation. Documentation includes the instructions for recreation of the end product from the ground up, allowing not only the original author(s), but individuals of sufficient requisite skill to recreate and understand important concepts through reading the prepared documentation.

I reserve the right to request, for any project as terms of acceptance of project demonstration, the recreation of an equivalently functional end result through following of accumulated project documentation. If documentation fails to produce the desired outcome, it will reflect negatively upon the project evaluation. For projects where you are submitting a specific end result, I may choose to request evidence of the work that went into arriving at that solution. Failure to remit evidence may result in your submission being invalidated.

A list of provided projects may be given, but there might also exist opportunities for additional project ideas- such projects are subject to approval by the instructor prior to starting, and are held to the same demonstration and documentation standards as standard projects. NOTE: Saying that you are going to try something and me replying with an acknowledgement does not constitute approval for a credit-worthy project; while I may ultimately grant some bonus points, do not interpret this as a carte blanche invitation to ignore the posted projects and wander off on random endeavors.

In some cases, depending on the situations involved, a project may be conducive for group-based collaboration. This is not the default case, but is specified on a case-by-case basis. In such scenarios, all involved group members should be identified prior to starting on the project. Additionally, ALL group members in a collaborative situation must perform fairly equivalent work output into the completion of the project. Deficient members may experience reduced success.

In accordance with the late policy, projects past their deadline will see a late penalty of 25% levied per day. This is to mitigate procrastination and encourage better time management, and also to ensure progress continues- once we hit the fourth day, a past due project is no longer worth any credit, so it behooves everyone to stay on top of assigned work and to complete it by its respective deadline. To clarify, if a project is due by the end of Wednesday, it would be 25% late Thursday (1 day late), 50% late Friday (2 days late), 75% late Saturday (3 days late), and 100% late Sunday and beyond (4+ days late).


Maintaining an ever present effort in your journey with respect to being present for class gatherings and making such effort known is an important aspect to academic interactions.

During class (be it a scheduled class gathering, hybrid, or internet experience), you are to show your effort through demonstrating regular interactive activity on lab46 and related resources (irc, mailing list, the wiki). For classes with scheduled times, a portion of this can be satisfied merely by having a shell open to Lab46, before class activities are underway. Such participation will be automatically ascertained and recorded. For more internet-based endeavors, emphasis will be on communications taking place with the entire class and shell-based activity on Lab46.

Participating in class interactions is also of significant importance. Participation is like the “I care” component of your grade. If you care enough to learn and help enhance the experience, you will have no trouble here. If you are disruptive or are not putting forth effort, however, then it will be duly reflected.

For classes where a mailing list or other communication forum is utilized, making regular contributions will count toward this aspect of your grade. Specific requirements for various resources will be indicated.

This isn't a “kiss up to the teacher” grade. I don't want people bending over backwards to please me. I want to see people learning and asking questions and growing, not agreeing with everything I say. Sometimes I will specifically ask questions or say things for the sole purpose of getting individual perspectives.

Additionally, participation and successful performance in the class relies upon each individual coming to class prepared and being adequately rested. Should you come to class sleep deprived you risk losing participation credit. Education requires a sound mind and body; anything less is a disservice to you and the course.

Participation is the contribution of YOU to the overall class, in a positive and harmonious manner to the overall group :)

Each week, you have the ability to earn participation credit by performing various activities (for some amount of points per week, likely reflective of week and progression of semester). The particular wcp# projects will detail the specific attributes and points available (and needed) for a particular week.

I would encourage you to vary your participation activities from week to week (don't just stick with what you're most comfortable with; if you don't like writing, intentionally aim to contribute to the course notes page, so that a dislike based on resistance turns more and more into a honed skill).

There will be some method of collecting this data from you each week, be it a specific weekly project with submit-time questionnaire or script you run that will allow you to itemize your participation contributions for the week; failure to submit your participation contributions will result in points not being earned (you have to be proactive about your participation). You should also maintain a log of your specific participation activities in case I wish to follow up on the specifics of a particular participation claim (if you cannot substantiate your participation, any claimed credit may be voided).

If you anticipate missing a class, please notify me in advance. While you may still lose applicable participation credit, the advance notice will be taken into positive consideration.


As the semester starts wrapping up, the End of Course Experience (EoCE) will be released.

Intended as a sort of comprehensive project(s), its aim is to evaluate your knowledge gained from the class this semester. Unlike other classes which have a “Final Exam”, the EoCE is meant to be an EXPERIENCE, and as such celebrated across the land. If you're new to my classes, you'll see those with prior experience jump for joy at the thought of an EoCE (the twitching / convulsing is merely ecstatic joy that is difficult for the corporeal body to manifest).

Submission Guidelines

The following are some guidelines to keep in mind when preparing your work for submission. Not all may always be applicable, to each class, or even each submission.

Digital is best

Technology is a wonderful thing. It facilitates many of the tasks we'd otherwise have to do manually by hand.

The intent here is to make things easy on both you and me.

So use the technology, and don't just it for the sake of using it– use it to make the task at hand easier (ie use the technology available for the course).

With that said, some additional aspects to keep in mind:

  • e-mails were designed to be plain text; don't make them into web pages
  • e-mails should always have an informative subject line
  • if you've got non-text files to include in an e-mail, attach them to the message
  • if you've got many attachments, archive & compress them, and just attach the archive
  • I can not easily open Microsoft Works documents; don't give me any in that format
  • Plain text is preferable over any enriched text format (RTF, WORD, WordPerfect, etc.)

If appropriate, I also will accept submissions via singing telegram, airplane banner, crop circles, creative dance, three part rock aria, etc. so long that I get to witness such creativity, and receive something which lets me look back on it later (photos, video, transcription on paper, etc.). Chances are such unique submissions will gain you favorable considerations.


Where applicable, be sure to include the following information on any submission:

  • Name,
  • Course and Section,
  • Due Date,
  • Assignment # and description,
  • Short abstract describing the purpose of your program / assignment.

Presentation of this information in a clear and organized fashion will make your assignment all the easier to read. You may come up with your own format for the display of this information.

Any e-mail submissions should have an appropriate subject line. Please use subjects on all e-mails. This is also very important.

Leaving off the subject line is like sending a letter without putting a stamp on it– it causes someone extra work. And that someone would be me. So don't do it. Please please please use informative subject lines!


For any provided questions, keywords, etc.: identify each question or selection you are answering by listing or paraphrasing the original question.

Do not just give me an answer.

This is important. I mean it. You don't know how frustrating it is to get an assignment that just has the answers on it. It takes so much longer to grade.

I reserve the right to deduct points if you don't do this.


Keep your programs and assignments organized and easy to read.

Use a uniform writing style. Messy or unorganized submissions will have points deducted. Think to yourself: does it look good? Would I want to read this? Take pride in your work.

These assignments are not just for me to read and grade- you may wish to incorporate them into a portfolio for use in the future. Making an investment now could pay off later!


Turn in submissions on time.

Late submissions will be subject to an appropriate penalty. Circumstances vary, see the Late Policy for details.

In many cases, where possible, I do accept resubmissions.


If you encounter an error while performing some task (and the directions do not indicate you should be receiving an error), chances are you made a typo. Consult the class mailing list, class chat, ask someone, or contact me.


Submissions containing answers based on user error will be considered incorrect.


Be sure to keep a backup copy of all assignments submitted in the event something is lost in transmission.


It is your responsibility to be able to send another copy of your submission should the original be lost.

Common Sense

Use your own judgment. The world today is increasingly filled with rules and policies dictating what you can and cannot do. I am not about to go and list all the specifics and restrictions regarding assignment submission.

You are here to learn and to grow, and I want to allow you a certain amount of flexibility in that process. Spending all your time formatting an assignment to my specifications isn't my idea of learning. Incorporate these guidelines into your general style, if you miss the mark I'll let you know. But focus more on learning and understanding than worrying about dotting every 'i' or crossing every 't'. There's enough of that elsewhere in the world.

Late Policy

Sometimes, even though we try our hardest to get everything in on time, the spurious Murphy's Law will make an appearance. Your dog ate your network cable, a burst of cosmic rays damaged your RAM precisely where your work was located… the list goes on.

If something is not submitted by its respective due date, and no advance attempt has been made to communicate with me, the assignment will be invalidated of any value.

Bottom line.. if something is going to be late: let me know. It happens, just don't make a habit of it. Communication is key.

Unless otherwise specified, past due assignments will lose 25% credit per day, rendering them worthless credit-wise after 4 days.


Attendance plays an important part in one's educational journey each semester. Missing class deprives you of essential knowledge and hinders understanding towards your eventual mastering of a topic.

Because we are all here to learn (and if learning isn't a priority, I highly suggest you think about making it such), and believe it or not- learning isn't just about one person, but the entire group. So it is important to be present in order to positively contribute to the learning experience.

I also reserve the right to drop students from the course due to excessive absences. On the same token, I reserve the right NOT to drop students from the course due to excessive absences.

Network Outages

In the event that a significant network or computer outage occurs on a network under CCC jurisdiction, an appropriate adjustment will be made to any applicable due dates.

If, however, an outage occurs on your end, that shouldn't necessarily be used as an excuse for missing deadlines on work submission. Everyone has a CCC student account, so work can be done while on campus. A certain amount of leniency will typically be granted, if you are usually on-time with your assignments and maintain regular communication with me.

If you experience any sort of problem connecting that does prevent the successful submittal of an assignment or assessment, I expect some notification on your part. Any error messages or diagnostic results will be useful in determining the scope of the problem and consideration regarding due dates.

Class/Weather Cancellation

Class cancellations by the instructor will be posted via an announcement sent directly to your student email account.  Cancellations due to inclement weather will be posted on the CCC website and the main page of MyCCC. It is the student’s responsibility to check these sources on a regular basis.

Announcements may also be posted on the course homepage or to the class IRC, if feasible.


Reasonable efforts are taken to ensure the class environment is accessible to individuals of a range of abilities. If you possess attributes that you feel create disadvantageous situations pertaining to learning, physical, or psychological abilities that you feel warrant institutional accommodations, the college has a Student Disabilities Services office that can provide assistance.

The office is located in the lower level of the Commons Building, near the bookstore, room M152.

Students are required to self-identify by making a formal request for services, and to provide current documentation that reflects the nature of the disability. Reasonable accommodations in the classroom will be provided for students with appropriately documented disabilities.

Confidentiality will be maintained at all times.


Because this course is open resource (ie book, computer, note, etc.) I would like it generally to remain closed person. The reason for this is that the amount of resources available to you are vast, and the goal here is to discover and learn the material through individual initiative.

It IS possible to help others without giving away answers.

Respond to questions with a question, give pointers to where information might be located in legitimate sources, remind them of the usefulness of manuals, and the availability of search engines.

Individuals are allowed and expected, to assist others through the mailing list and class chat WITHOUT GIVING EXPLICIT ANSWERS, so long as it does not interfere with any other existing circumstance. If group work is required on anything, that attribute will be specifically stated.

Explicit copying on any class work is forbidden. If any evidence or suggestion of non-authentic work is discovered (and I can tell you some stories) in your particular direction, you risk both my wrath as well as the possibility of disciplinary action by the school. Academic dishonesty and plagiarism may be prosecuted under the purview as laid out in the school's Academic Honesty Policy, as listed under the Code of Student Conduct: Academic Honesty section in the CCC Course Catalog.

So just play it safe and make sure your work is your own, and borrowed information is appropriately cited or referenced.

Pet Peeves

Everyone has their buttons that can be pushed the wrong way. Here are a few of mine, that I would prefer not encountering:

  • the eager, often surface-only desire to destroy things (especially with no desire to understand the why behind it all)
  • the notion that 'old', 'older', or 'different', especially in terms of technology, is somehow bad (there are plenty of useful things to learn, for the patterns will often remanifest in future technologies down the road)
  • apologizing: “sorry I had to ask a question”, “sorry I misunderstood”, “sorry I failed to do that action”; I WANT people to ask questions. Questions are based on not fully understanding something. And if your actions come up short, apologies only serve to highlight the deficiency. The best solution: to fix it and not keep repeating the same mistake. There may be things worthy of apologizing for. For most incidents of apology I encounter related to classes, such is irrelevant. If you feel you are in the wrong for asking a question, you're doing this whole learning thing wrong.
  • overhelping “the weakest link”; a somewhat modern trend, where I see woefully unprepared/unready individuals overly assisted through the course (where the intent is to save them from failing). This is but a short-term perspective, contributing to their long-term failure.
  • opting out of things that seem overwhelming, yet somehow expecting things will get better as time goes on.
  • the desire to impress me– impressing comes by being impressive, not selling an act to me (in short, don't try to impress me, just do you best work)
  • the obsession over and recitation of hardware specs– this has nothing to do with computing, yet many mistakenly believe it to be such (a small aspect of IT and an occasionally fun hobby? sure.)
  • the compensation for lack of knowledge by clinging tightly to (perceived) known knowledge– I expect everyone not to know things; knowing we don't know enables us to learn.
  • the avoiding of questions out of fear they may not be worthy of asking– how else can I know where you are if you don't ask?
  • the senseless asking of questions to avoid thinking. Questions should be a result of your thinking, not “I don't know, so tell me”.
  • the absolute belief that if I say something then it is the truth (same for the inverse, converse, contrapositive, etc.)– being open-minded and questioning is one of the greatest abilities we can have. Society trains you to be compliant with external authority at the expense of your own; to be educated and intelligent, in part, means you have cultivated your own self-authority so you can make your own decisions.
  • the tendency to brute force through something instead of trying to think or learn new approaches– memorizing and regurgitation will often not work out in your favor here (or greatly annoy me).
  • trying to add me to your “LinkedIn” network; I delete these e-mails without even reading them (nothing personal, I just do not use LinkedIn).


The following criteria should be kept in mind when contributing content to collaborative documentation, the wiki, your journal, and any pertinent class-related communications:

  • Never use a form of a word in its own definition
  • Use external hyperlinks only as citations
  • Content first, then formatting
  • There is only one empire- ours
  • Contribute only original content
    • paraphrase and cite existing information
    • do NOT blatantly copy existing information
  • A healthy wiki is an active wiki
  • Do not focus on just your contributions
  • Mistakes are opportunities for future contributions


The following is a list of the major topics being covered in this course:

  • Local vs. Remote resources
    • Client, Host, Node, Peer, Server
  • Types of files
    • Regular
    • Directory
      • Current/Present Working Directory
      • Home Directory
      • Parent Directory
      • Root Directory
      • Traditional Directory Structure
        • location of common utilities
      • Links (Symbolic)
    • Special
  • Manual Pages
    • Manual Sections
    • apropos, man
  • History
    • origins
    • strains of UNIX
    • flavors of Linux
    • lineage, influence
  • File Manipulation
    • Creating
    • Duplication (Copying)
    • Moving
    • Deleting
    • Archiving, Unarchiving
    • Compressing, Uncompressing
    • Encoding, Decoding
    • Encrypting, Decrypting
  • File Access
    • Ownership
      • User, Group, World
    • Permissions
      • Read, Write, Execute/Search
  • UNIX Philosophy
    • Everything is a File
    • Do One Thing, and Do that One Thing Extremely Well
    • Small is Beautiful
  • Text Processing
    • moded editing, vi/vim editor
    • Filtering
      • cat
      • head, tail
      • tr, cut, grep, sed, diff
  • The UNIX Shell
    • variables
      • local, ENVIRONMENT
      • declaring, initializing, accessing
      • $PATH, $HOME, $USER
      • performing arithmetic
    • wildcards
    • quotes
    • expansion
      • variable expansion
      • command expansion
    • tab completion
    • I/O redirection
      • write/overwrite, append
    • hidden/dotfiles
  • Job Control
    • foreground/background(ing) jobs
    • process management
      • viewing status of running processes (ps, top)
      • altering priority of processes (nice)
      • terminating processes (kill, pkill)
    • job scheduling
      • cron, at
  • The UNIX Programming Environment
    • Compiler (gcc), Assembler, Linker, Loader
    • Source Code, Object Code, Binary Code, Library
    • Relationship between UNIX and C
  • Regular Expressions
    • Pattern Matching
    • Pattern Creation
    • Extended Regular Expressions
      • egrep
  • Shell Scripting
    • shabang
    • bash syntax
    • variables
    • I/O
    • selection statements
      • if
      • case
    • loops
      • numeric for loop
      • list-based for loop
      • while
    • arrays
    • functions
  • Networking
    • UNIX Networking Tools
      • ping, ifconfig, traceroute, route, nslookup
    • TCP/IP
    • standards, protocols, RFCs
  • Security
    • groups
    • application of permissions
    • considerations of access
      • public_html
  • System Administration
    • software
      • package management
      • source
    • logs
    • configuration
    • deployment
  • X Window System
    • X server, X clients, interactions thereof
  • Projects
    • installation of OS
      • virtualization
    • web server
    • blog
    • version control (hg)
    • screen / tmux
    • irc
    • irc bot
    • vim configuration
    • brute-force password cracking
    • automated drawing
    • puzzle box
    • course list processing
haas/spring2018/unix.txt · Last modified: 2018/01/15 12:51 by wedge