Using the Terminal for Doing Stuff
People developing on MAC or Linux systems are used to doing things from the terminal or console. Especially when working on remote servers - but also for embedded devices for audio processing - the terminal is the standard tool.
You can maneuver through the system's directories using
cd command. Changing to an absolute path
can be done like this:
$ cd /foo/bar
New directories are created with the
For creating a new directory
mydir in your recent location,
$ mkdir mydir
The content of the recent directory can be listed with the
command. The following arguments improve the results:
$ ls -lah drwxrwxr-x 2 username group 4,0K Mar 25 12:25 . drwxrwxr-x 16 username group 4,0K Mar 25 12:25 .. -rwxrwxr-x 1 username group 9,1M Feb 3 17:47 jacktrip -rwxrwxr-x 1 username group 334K Feb 3 17:47 sprawl-compositor
Create a directory with your name in the student user home directory
Create and Edit Files
A file can be created by touching it:
$ touch filename
The default editor on most systems is
nano. It is a minimal terminal based tool and does not
require X forwarding. To edit an existing file or create a new file, type:
$ nano filename
Inside nano, you have a lot of defined keystrokes for editing, file handling and other tasks. See the nano cheat sheet for a full list: https://www.nano-editor.org/dist/latest/cheatsheet.html
Create a text file in your personal directory and fill it with some text.
When working with X forwarding, simple text editors with GUI features can be used.
On the SPRAWL server, this includes
mouspad or the minimal Python IDE
System wide binaries must be located in a directory that is listed in $PATH (see the final section on this page for details). They can be started by simply typing the name:
A local binary named foo can be started with the following command:
You can terminate your command with an ampersand (&) to run a process in the background. You can continue to work in the terminal, afterwards:
$ ./foo &  5459
If you start a command this way, it gives you an id of the background process in brackets and the actual process ID (PID).
You can get the process back into foreground with the fg command followed by the background process id:
$ fg 1
Check for Running Applications
At some point, users may want to know whether a process is running
or which processes have been started.
top lets you monitor the system processes with additional
information on CPU and memory usage, updated with a fixed interval:
htop is a slightly polished version, using colored results:
You can get a list of all running processes, including auxiliary ones, by typing:
$ ps aux
Usually, these are way to many results.
If you want to check whether an instance of a specific
program is running, you can use
grep after the
to filter the results:
$ ps aux | grep foo
Sometimes it is convenient to store information in variables for later use. Some common variables that are used in Unix like operating systems like Linux, BSD or MacOS are for example PATH and DISPLAY.
Shell variables are usually uppercase. To get the content of a variable it is prefixed by a dollar sign. The command echo is used to print the content:
$ echo $PATH /home/username/.local/bin:/home/username/bin:/usr/bin:/bin:/usr/local/sbin:/usr/sbin $ echo $DISPLAY :0
Defining a variable is done with an equal sign. It happens quite often that the program that should use the variable, opens another environment. To access the variable in that sub-environment, it has to be exported before:
$ NAME=username $ echo $NAME username $ bash $ echo $NAME $ exit exit $ export NAME $ bash $ echo $NAME username