CSE Home Computing CD
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A Hitch-Hiker's Guide to CSE


Welcome to CSE.

This guide aims to familiarise you with the ways things work around CSE. Hopefully after reading it, you will have a better idea about things at CSE and at least know where to get help.

This guide assumes you have had a look at the CSE UNIX Primer.

Where to find help

"Try to find the answer yourself before asking. You will avoid annoying people!"

For news, information about the course you are studying and important notices, check http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/.

For information about the course you are studying at CSE try:

http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~cs<course number> for COMP courses
http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~en<course number> for ENGG courses
http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~se<course number> for SENG courses
http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~bi<course number> for BINF courses

For example, http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~cs1911/ is the homepage for the course COMP1911 and
http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~en1811/ is the homepage for the course ENGG1811.

For frequently asked questions (this should be your first point of call):


You may need to log on using your CSE account name and password to view the FAQ.

For CSE's Documentation collection (commands, manuals, other documents):


For information on how to find more help:


For information about a certain UNIX command:

Use the helpful manual pages! At a terminal type:

man <command name>

To find a lecturer's phone number and room:

At a terminal type:

ring <lecturer's name>

It is worth noting that at CSE email is the prefered method of communication. The ring command will also give you the lecturer's email address.

To find someones login when you know their name:

At a terminal type:

finger <person's name>

To find out more details about someone:

At a terminal type:

pp <person's login>

If a printer is out of paper, or you are having trouble with your account, consult the help desk (located in the Mech Eng. Undercroft, opposite Leaf lab), or email the help desk at helpdesk@cse.unsw.edu.au.

How to connect to CSE and work from home

If you have access to a computer and an Internet connection at home, you may (almost certainly) find that working from home is a lot more convenient than coming into Uni every time to work on assignments and lab exercises. Fortunately for you, connecting to Uni and working on a CSE server is very easy if you have an internet connection.

Transferring files:

Being able to transfer files between your home computer and your Uni account is invaluable, and you can do it in two ways:

FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

You can transfer files using a ftp client. Both UNIX/Linux and Windows have inbuilt FTP clients which you can invoke by typing (in Windows, type in your Start->Run window):

ftp ftp.cse.unsw.edu.au

Then, enter your user name and password.

You can then "put" files into your CSE account by using the command put:

ftp> put <filename>

This will put the file you specified in the current directory into your CSE account.

To "get" files from your CSE account, use the command get:

ftp> get <filename>

This will retrieve the file from the server and put it on your home computer.

To change the directory on your computer ("local change directory"), type:

ftp> lcd <directory>

To change the directory on your CSE account, type:

ftp> cd <directory>

SCP (Secure Copy)

The major problem with FTP is that it doesn't use any form of encryption. If this worries you, you can use SCP. Using SCP is simple once you get the syntax right and makes copying things much easier. SCP is usually included with Linux, so no extra programs are necessary. To use SCP on Windows, you can use the program WinSCP available on this CD.

The syntax for scp is much the same as for cp, which you've used before to copy a file.

For sending files:

scp <local filename> <username>@<server>:<remote filename>

For retrieving files:

scp <username>@<server>:<remote filename> <local filename>

For example,

scp foo.txt user123@cse.unsw.edu.au:bar.txt

will copy foo.txt to the file bar.txt in your CSE account. And,

scp user123@wagner.cse.unsw.edu.au:bar.txt .

will put bar.txt into your current directory at home (note '.' denotes current directory)

To transfer entire directories, use the -r (recursive) flag, for example:

scp -r user123@wagner.cse.unsw.edu.au:dir1 .

Working Remotely

If you want to check your email or submit an assignment from home, you must log in to a server and execute commands remotely. To do this you can use Telnet or SSH (Secure Shell). Telnet, like FTP is un-encrypted, and running GUI programs from it is also much harder than SSH. Here we will discuss how to use SSH from Linux and Windows.

To SSH in Windows, you can use the program PuTTY, which can be found on this CD. Simply double click on it, enter in the server name, choose the "ssh" radio button and click on connect. For a list of CSE servers you can use, consult the primer. The most common are wagner, weill and williams. If you ssh into "login.cse.unsw.edu.au" without specifying a server, you will receive a random server. To use SSH in Linux, at the command line type:

ssh <user>@<server>


ssh user123@wagner.cse.unsw.edu.au

SSH has many flags, to find out more about ssh, please consult its man page ("man ssh").

What you need to get you started

Your lecturer will tell you specific programs needed for your course, however for most (first year) courses, you will need an editor and an interpreter or compiler. Editors available on this CD are ConTEXT and xemacs from cygwin.

To connect to CSE and work from home you need a ssh client and a ftp/scp client if on Windows. A small, nice easy to use ssh client is PuTTY , and an easy to use scp client is WinSCP . Read instructions on how to use these above.

Updating and Getting new packages for Linux

To get the latest update for most of the packages on the CD, and to obtain new packages, you can try the sites below:

Additional Programs to use on CSE lab computers (stulocal)

Other than the standard programs that you can use straight away when you log on to a CSE computer, you can also use a repository of student maintained software. Software installed includes everything from an assortment of IRC clients, ICQ, email tools, editors and many useful development programs. To start using this software, you must add:

. /home/stulocal/bin/setup-env.sh

to a file in your home directory called ".profile". To do this just open .profile in any editor (eg: nedit .profile) and add the line to it. Make sure you include the dot and the space at the beginning of the line. Note that changes to .profile will only take effect on subsequent logins.

You should also subscribe to either the stulocal.announce or stulocal.discuss mailing lists to get the latest information about packages being installed.

To subscribe to any mailing list type:

mlalias -a <listname> $USER

For example,

mlalias -a stulocal.announce $USER

For more information about stulocal, visit the stulocal website at: www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~stulocal/

Other things available to you at CSE

Being a CSE student is about more than just assignments, exams and computer labs.

Student societies - CSESoc and BINFSoc

Each year the two student societies, CSESoc and BINFSoc organise a variety of activities, including a harbour cruise, free barbecues, a ski trip, code-fests, install-fests and an end-of-year ball. CSE students are also organising a revue. Check your email regularly for notices about these events as they are lots of fun.

Other student groups

Other student societies CSE students can participate in are IEEE, ACM and Women in Computing.


IEEE is the UNSW student chapter of the IEEE Computer Society. They organise about three activities per year, mostly full-day seminars by IEEE Distinguished Lecturers. For more information about IEEE Computer Society see www.computer.org.


ACM@UNSW is the UNSW Student Chapter for the Association for Computer Machinery (ACM). ACM@UNSW run a number of programming competitions which lead up to the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest. For more information about ACM, see acm.org.


Support for women in CSE is available through the