The Unix Shell - Aberystwyth University

April 10th and 17th, 2018

1 pm - 5 pm

Instructors: Colin Sauze

Helpers: Alex Pitchford, Katie Awty-Carroll, Deepthi Sareddy

General Information

This workshop will cover the material from the Software Carpentry Unix Shell lesson. Knowledge of the Unix shell is vital for anyone wishing to use High Performance Computing systems such as Super Computing Wales. It can also be very useful for dealing with large datasets and automating data processing.

Software Carpentry aims to help researchers get their work done in less time and with less pain by teaching them basic research computing skills. This hands-on workshop will cover basic concepts and tools, including program design, version control, data management, and task automation. Participants will be encouraged to help one another and to apply what they have learned to their own research problems.

For more information on what we teach and why, please see our paper "Best Practices for Scientific Computing".

Who: The course is aimed at graduate students and other researchers. You don't need to have any previous knowledge of the tools that will be presented at the workshop.

Where: Room 3.03, Physical Sciences Building, Aberystwyth University, Penglais, SY23 3BZ. Get directions with OpenStreetMap or Google Maps.

When: April 10th and 17th, 2018. Add to your Google Calendar.

Requirements: Computers will be available for all participants to use. Participants may bring a laptop if they prefer. It must be running a Mac, Linux, or Windows operating system (not a tablet, Chromebook, etc.) and they will need to have administrative privileges. They should have a few specific software packages installed (listed below). They are also required to abide by Software Carpentry's Code of Conduct.

Accessibility: We are committed to making this workshop accessible to everybody. The workshop organizers have checked that:

Note: The room being used is on the 3rd floor of the building, it can be accessed by a lift but there are two steps between the lift and the room.

Materials will be provided in advance of the workshop and large-print handouts are available if needed by notifying the organizers in advance. If we can help making learning easier for you (e.g. sign-language interpreters, lactation facilities) please get in touch (using contact details below) and we will attempt to provide them.

Contact: Please email for more information.



Please be sure to complete these surveys before and after the workshop.

Pre-workshop Survey

Post-workshop Survey

Day 1 (April 10th)

13:00 Setup and Introducing the Shell
13:30 Navigating Files and Directories
14:30 Coffee
15:00 Working With Files and Directories
16:00 Pipes and Filters

Day 2 (April 17th)

13:00 Loops
14:30 Coffee
15:00 Shell Scripts
16:00 Finding Things

We will use this collaborative document for chatting, taking notes, and sharing URLs and bits of code.


The Unix Shell

  • Files and directories
  • History and tab completion
  • Pipes and redirection
  • Looping over files
  • Creating and running shell scripts
  • Finding things
  • Reference...


To participate in a Software Carpentry workshop, you will need access to the software described below. In addition, you will need an up-to-date web browser.

We maintain a list of common issues that occur during installation as a reference for instructors that may be useful on the Configuration Problems and Solutions wiki page.


  1. Download and install PuTTY.
  2. Run the installer and follow the steps below:
    1. At the "Welcome to the PuTTY release 0.70" screen click on "Next"
    2. Leave the destination folder as "C:\Program Files\PuTTY\" and click on "Next"
    3. At the "Product Features" click Install. If you would like an icon on your desktop, click the "Add shortcut to PuTTY on the Desktop" and choose "Will be installed on local hard drive".
    4. Agree to the User Access Control diaglog box asking if you want to install the software.
    5. The installation should now be finished, click the Finish button to close the installer.
  3. PuTTY should now be installed and will appear in your Start menu or on your desktop.

Mac OS X

All required software should be pre-installed.


All required software should be pre-installed.