CMSC 121, Section 0101/0201 - Fall 2006
Introduction to UNIX


Course Website:


Instructor: Eric Eaton
Office: ITE 339
Office Hours: Tuesday 11-12pm, Wednesday 1-2pm, and by appointment.
E-mail: ericeaton @  Put "CMSC 121" in the subject line.

Class Time and Location

Section 0101 meets in ENGR 122A from 4:00-5:15pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from September 5, 2006 to September 21, 2006.

Section 0201 meets in ENGR 122A from 10:00-11:30am on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from September 25, 2006 to October 13, 2006.

Course Description

This is an introductory course on UNIX intended primarily for incoming students new to UNIX and to computing at UMBC. Topics include an introduction to the UMBC computing environment, basics of the UNIX environment, e-mail using Pine, and the emacs/Xemacs editor. Students are required to obtain a UMBC GL account prior to the first day of class.


Learning the UNIX Operating System, 5th Edition
by Jerry Peek, Grace Todino, and John Strang
O'Reilly; ISBN 0-596-00261-0
UNIX in a Nutshell, 4th Edition
by Arnold Robbins
O'Reilly; ISBN 0-596-10029-9

The UMBC bookstore sells a one-page quick reference to linux commands:

Quick Study Computer: UNIX
ISBN: 157222397-9
UMBC Bookstore price: $5.95
In the QuickStudy Charts in the computer section of the bookstore's lower level -- NOT near the textbooks.

Course Outline and Goals

The course will introduce the UMBC computing environment, UNIX commands, and various UNIX tools. This is a practical course, with an emphasis on using UNIX to support your work. The primary goals of this course are:

See the course schedule for details on the topics covered.

Course Mailing List

A course mailing list has been established for distributing news and discussing course-related topics. Students should feel free to post general problems, questions, and answers to the list for the benefit of the entire class. At no time should students post homework solutions or solutions to exam questions to the course mailing list; posting such solutions will be interpreted as academic dishonesty.  Posting such solutions will be the sole responsibility of the course staff.  Individual concerns should be e-mailed directly to course staff.

To subscribe, visit:

For Section 0101:

For Section 0201:

Everyone who was registered for the course as of the first day of class has been automatically added to the list.

Although not required, it is highly recommended that you subscribe to the course mailing list. If you do not subscribe to the list, there is no guarantee that you will receive up-to-date information about the course.

To post to the course mailing list, send email to (for section 0101) or (for section 0201).


As you will discover, I am a proponent of two-way communication.  I expect everyone to participate actively in classroom discussions by asking questions, contributing answers, and proposing ideas.  I welcome feedback during the semester about the course. 

In return, I will make myself available to answer student questions, listen to concerns, and talk about any course-related topic (or otherwise!).  I make an effort to respond to e-mails within 24 weekday hours.

Whenever you e-mail me, please use a meaningful subject line and include the phrase "CMSC 121" at the beginning of that line.


The grading method for this course is Pass/Fail. Your final grade will be composed of :

VERY IMPORTANT: You must receive at least a 25% on each homework assigment in order to be elligible to receive a PASS as your final grade.

Your final grade will be determined according to the following criteria:

If you have received at least a 25% on each homework assigment and your weighted average grade is >= 60.0%: PASS
Otherwise: FAIL

Incomplete grades will be given only for verifiable medical illness or other such dire circumstances.

Homework Assignments

There will be three (3) homeworks assigned over the course. Each homework will be assigned at least four days in advance of its due date. Homework assignment solutions must be turned in at the start of class in hardcopy on the designated due date. Homework assignments can be submitted up to 48 hours late for 1/2 credit. No submissions later than 48 hours will be accepted. Extensions will be given only in the case of verifiable medical excuses or other such dire circumstances, if requested in advance.

All solutions are required to be your own, individual work. You may, and are encouraged, to discuss methods, concepts, and assignments with anyone; however, the solutions turned in must be your own work. A good rule of thumb is to be alone when you sit down to actually generate solutions to the assigned problems, and to not show your solutions to anyone else. You are welcome to use any of the UNIX Manual pages or reference books to help you generate the answers. You are also welcome and encouraged to test your solutions in UNIX before submitting them.

At the top of your submission, you must include a clear statement specifying the source of any assistance you received on this assignment. This includes any websites you consulted, other students with whom you discussed any of the problems, etc. If you did not receive any assistance, you must say so. Submissions without this statement will be penalized. Consulting the course textbooks or the Unix Manual pages are freebies -- you do not need to state that you consulted these sources in your statement.

Lectures and Readings

You are expected to attend all classes. You are responsible for all material covered in the lecture (including material that is not included in the textbook), and all material in the readings (including material that is not covered during lecture). You are responsible for familiarizing yourself with the assigned material before each class. If you miss a class, you are responsible for getting the notes and any verbal information given during class from a fellow classmate. If handouts were given out or assignments returned, you may come to my office to get them.

The way to learn UNIX is to use UNIX. I highly recommend practicing in the UMBC computer labs outside of class.


The final exam will be closed-book and closed-notes. Test dates for the exam has already been announced, so plan your schedule accordingly. In the case of verifiable medical excuses or other such dire circumstances, arrangements must be made with the instructor for a makeup exam. You are responsible for initiating these arrangements, not your instructor, before the test date.

Only pencils, pens, and erasers are permitted in the exam room unless otherwise indicated. Scratch paper will be provided to you by the course staff, as needed. Having any other materials in your possession during an exam will be taken as evidence of cheating and dealt with accordingly.

UMBC Statement of Values for Academic Integrity

By enrolling in this course, each student assumes the responsibilities of an active participant in UMBC's scholarly community in which everyone's academic work and behavior are held to the highest standards of honesty. Cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, and helping others to commit these acts are all forms of academic dishonesty, and they are wrong. Academic misconduct could result in disciplinary action that may include, but is not limited to, suspension or dismissal. To read the full Student Academic Conduct Policy, consult the UMBC Student Handbook, the Faculty Handbook, or the UMBC Policies section of the UMBC Directory. [Statement adopted by UMBC's Undergraduate Council and Provost's Office.]

For additional details on university policies on academic integrity, see the UMBC Undergraduate Student Academic Conduct Policy and the Faculty Handbook, Section 14.2 -- POLICY ON FACULTY, STUDENT, AND INSTITUITIONAL RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES FOR ACADEMIC INTEGRITY

Any violation of the UMBC academic honesty policy will carry a minimum penalty of a zero (0) grade on the grade component in question and a 10% penalty applied to the final weighted average.

Cheating in any form will not be tolerated. Instances of cheating will be reported to the UMBC Academic Conduct Committee. These reports are filed by the Committee and can be used for disciplinary action such as a permanent record on your transcript. You are expected to be honest yourself and to report any cases of dishonesty you see among other students in this class. Reports of dishonest behavior will be kept anonymous.


Thanks to Dan Hood for making his course materials available. Many of the course materials for this class have been adapted form those sources.

Last Modified: 2006-09-22 14:11