How to compute like a grad student

Joseph O'Sullivan
Robert O'Callahan
John Langford
A cast of thousands

August 24th, 1999

Slides adapted from David Rochberg adapted from Darrell Kindred adapted from David Eckhardt...

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Why this talk?

Easing your transition.

Different times, different audiences

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Don't hurt yourself
Make yourself at home
How to get help
What's different about CMU
Misc Collections
The rest

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Computers are bad for you

Not OK for your wrists/arms/fingers to hurt.

We are not experts but...

CMU ergo specialists (8-8182)

Jim Skees has spoken about this?

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DO THIS TODAY! (cont'd)


To create a josullvn.root id, I would
'telnet jeeves' and create josullvn.root; I would then have someone add
josullvn.root@CS.CMU.EDU to ~root/.klogin.local on my machine,
and then type `su' and enter the josullvn.root password
That someone is gripe, so after you have created the identity,
mail gripe@cs to set you up.

Both of these last two items aren't essential till it's 11pm at night, your computer has crashed, needing you to fsck before you can print out the exam you need a hundred copies of.

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How to get help

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How to get help from CS facilities

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A note about Facilities

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What's different at SCS

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Part of that mishmash

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Remember what we said about hardware

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(1) This allows us to illustrate the fabulous zarchive technology.
Check out

Links for kclient and nifty telnet distribution

There are also command line ssh ports which are useful for things like

It's possible to disable unencrypted telnet to a machine by adding to /etc/quirk.local
telnetd_force_encrypt = on

Ttssh was written by SCSer Robert O'Callahan during a vacation to Australia. Since Rob is a non-citizen of the US and he wrote the software overseas, it's free of export restrictions from australia & many other places and it can be imported to the US.

Checking email while away from CMU presents an especially annoying problem. Sometimes, you can install SSH or ttssh, but often you can't. SCS facilities will soon have 'kopie' a one-time password system working. This ought to let you check your email from somewhere else with either a list of one-time passwords or a pilot to do funky one-time password computations. Until then, get a free email account with or or someone and forward your mail to that when you are away.

ssh is much more secure than VNC. In fact VNC is not secure. Its just neat, and a symptom of what happens when multiple people prepare a presentation.

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Communicating: e-mail names


You probably don't want to give out your address as

It might be convenient, but names are less unique than you might hope.

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Communicating: e-mail delivery

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Communicating: reading e-mail in SCS


Some biased opinions:

Current hip IMAP clients include mulberry, gnus nnimap, tkrat, and pine. mulberry exists only for windows/macos now, linux port soon, and supports kerberos for delicious security. it's the andrew-side favorite. In particular, mulberry is pretty usable over slow PPP even with large mailboxes because it doesn't suck down the whole mailbox whenever you log in. netscape does a little dance on every message in the mailbox whenever you connect, making it useless over slow lines. At least it used to. see here

Old and clunky but scales well. Emacs versions less clunky, but still slow.This link is actually surprisingly useful:

"VM: I fear having all my mail in one big file that emacs must load in at once and is at its liberty to corrupt. I'm paranoid that way. If you haven't been scarred by bogus emacs v18 RMAIL bugs, you may be calmer". BTW netscape, eudora, outlook etc all basically work in the one big file way.

gnus: "Tough to configure"

Eudora: Synchronization trouble, also known as the devil spawn.

Netscape: Occasionally crashy, but maybe less so nowadays. It has its "hip" client supporters, whereas others say "netscape's imap client is much goofier and has some serious problems compared to mulberry". Mozilla will obviously fix all. To use netscape, read

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Minimal Zephyr with zwgc & friends

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Public Zephyr

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Public Zephyr Culture

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Emacs Zephyr Mode

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Netnews (or 'bboards')

required reading:
important announcements
new software or changes

general-interest items, no discussion

university news and announcements

do you want to graduate?

do you want to keep any friends?

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Mailing lists

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Lower-tech communication

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/usr/local ('misc collections')

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Your Workstation

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Using AFS


AFS is a network filesystem. That means that if you have no network, you lose. If you are careful to not touch any bits in AFS, a network-less machine can sometimes limp along for a while, but, at those unpleasant times when you're without AFS:

1. Your machine will grind to a halt unless you've been careful to use depot.pref.local to install useful tools on your local disk.

2. You won't be able to get at remote data.

Take a look at the zarchives/FZQ for info on what should go in your depot.pref.local to make your machine usable during an AFS outage.

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Windows NT

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Two are common


Gnuclient -nw is really nice. The MO is this:

Leave an xemacs running at school.

Go home. Log in. Run 'gnuclient -nw' and voila; you have access to the xemacs session at school. This is a big win for keeping files synchronized.

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psxup is a cmu-local name invented by KOSAK, the pstools maintainer

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Other resources

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The RPP in computing

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A Note on Free Speech and the RPP

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A reminder (or 'do as I say, not as I do')

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Andrew: How the other half lives


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Weird I/O devices in SCS

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Home machines


CS 56k dialups are v.90, and the Andrew 56k dialups are USRx2.

Screen has its fans. Screen allows for luscious compute-from-home-over-flaky-dialups joy. You can even do screen+'gnuclient -nw'. a disconnection while you're using just gnuclient can kill the host xemacs.

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