Linux Command-Line Primer

Jan 10, 2022, 10:00 am12:30 pm
View location on My PrincetonU
Event Description
This primer will introduce participants to the Linux filesystem and the Linux command line (specifically the bash shell). It will demonstrate how to navigate the filesystem, work with files using common Linux text utilities, launch programs, and access the built-in help features on Linux systems. It will also touch on a few more advanced concepts such as streams, pipelines, file permissions, and environment variables. Most of the material presented translates to the command line on MacOS or other Unix systems (exceptions will be noted).

Although the pace will be quick, this session is suitable for people with no prior knowledge of computer programming or of Linux/Unix. It may also benefit participants with prior exposure who have been “going through the motions” on the command line and would like a better understanding of what they’re doing. People with extensive experience will likely find the workshop too elementary, though even this group may still find worthwhile nuggets of new information.

Note that this session forms a basis for several other PICSiE Wintersession workshops that rely on their participants having at least basic facility with the command line.

Learning objectives:

Participants will learn how to navigate the Linux filesystem and run basic commands. Since knowledge doesn’t always “stick” after such a brief exposure, the session aims to (i) expose people to this material firsthand, (ii) provide resources for further learning and self-study, and (iii) arm participants with enough conceptual understanding of how Linux works “under the hood” to make sense of those resources.

Knowledge prerequisites:

None. However, to get more out of the session, participants are encouraged to read through (and ideally follow along with) this online Linux tutorial ( a few days before the session.

Hardware/software prerequisites:

For this session, users should also have an account on our Adroit cluster (another cluster like Tiger or Della is ok), and they should confirm that they can SSH into Adroit at least 48 hours beforehand. (

We prefer that everyone do the session by making an SSH connection to Adroit in order to maintain a uniform environment. That said, users with a Linux or Unix command line on their own laptops are welcome to do the workshop like that. Note, however, that there can be some subtle differences in how certain commands work on, e.g., macOS vs. Linux. To minimize hiccups, Mac users are strongly encouraged to SSH into Adroit or install the GNU version of standard command line utilities using a package manager, such as homebrew (

Session format:

Presentation, demo, and hands-on

What to expect:
Single workshop (one-off workshop – 2 hours total)

Meet the facilitator:
Garrett studied experimental mathematics at Temple University, where he focused on novel GPU computations, particularly eigensystems of certain random graph families. Garrett then worked in industry developing peta-scale distributed systems for production use in telecom and quantitative finance. Over the years he has worked in HPC roles supporting the Princeton scientific community at GFDL and PPPL. Currently Garrett is working with the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics developing the ASPIRE-Python package for CryoEM image reconstruction.

To request accommodations for this event, please contact the workshop or event facilitator at least 3 working days prior to the event.