Jumpstart Lab Curriculum

Terminal and Editor

UNIX Essentials

If this is your first time using UNIX then you’ll need a few of the most essential pieces to be able to complete your work:

  • Open Terminal by typing command-spacebar to open Spotlight, then type Terminal and hit enter
  • You now have a single terminal window. This window can open multiple tabs by typing command-t
  • The prompt on the left tells you a bit about what folder you’re currently in. But try typing pwd in the terminal and hit enter to print out your "present working directory"

Listing Files

  • ls will list the files in the current folder
  • ls -lA will list the files in the current folder along with a bunch of info about them

Working with Files

  • Files that start with a ., like the .bash_profile you’ll work with later, are hidden files. If you just use ls they won’t show up, but ls -lA will show them.
  • touch is used to create blank files. Try touch sample_file then ls.
  • rm is used to remove files. Remove that sample with rm sample_file
  • which tells you where on the file system a program is. Try which ruby to see the full path to your Ruby executable.

Working with Directories

  • mkdir will make a directory. Go ahead and enter mkdir sample_directory to create a directory
  • cd stands for "change directory". Enter cd sample_directory to move into your new directory
  • The tilde (~) is a shortcut for your "home" directory. You can enter cd ~ from any folder on the system and you’ll jump back to your home directory.
  • The single period (.) is a reference to the current directory. If you enter cd . it won’t go anywhere. But the period is useful especially with Git which you’ll see soon.
  • The double period (..) is a reference to the parent directory of the current directory (one step up the tree). Try entering cd .. then ls and you should see your user folder. cd back into that.
  • Removing directories is a bit different. Try rm -rf sample_directory to remove our previously created sample directory

Setting Up Terminal Access for Atom

One of the things you’ll do frequently is open an entire folder (like when working on a project) in your text editor. Let’s get that setup:

  • Open Atom (command-spacebar for spotlight, type Atom, and hit enter).
  • Click the Atom menu in the top left corner
  • Click Install Shell Commands
  • Return to your terminal and enter which atom. You should get back /usr/local/bin/atom
  • Enter atom . to open your user directory in Atom.
  • Experiment with creating a file in Atom and using ls in the terminal to see it. Try creating a file in the terminal with touch and see if it shows up in Atom.

Customizing Your Terminal

A little bit of increased efficiency in your use of the Unix environment and your editor can pay significant dividends over time. Let’s experiment with customizing and adding to your terminal and editor.

  • Open ~/.bash_profile in a text editor (ex: atom ~/.bash_profile)
  • You can check out dotfiles on GitHub to see how serious people get: http://dotfiles.github.com/

The Essentials

  • export to set environment variables
  • alias for shorthand commands, like I define e to launch my editor
  • source to run scripts of bash commands


Snippets from my .bash_profile are below. The top three lines setup a yellow lightning bolt as my prompt because, well, it’s awesome.

We have set up some dotfiles you can use, go to bootstrap new students and follow the instructions there.

export PS1="\W \[\033[0;33m\]⚡\[\033[0;39m\] "
export CLICOLOR=1
export LSCOLORS=ExFxBxDxCxegedabagacad

export EDITOR='/usr/local/bin/atom'
export CC=/usr/local/bin/gcc-4.2

# My general projects directory:
alias cdp="cd /Users/jcasimir/Dropbox/Projects/"

# My most commonly used project, "curriculum":
alias cdc="cd /Users/jcasimir/Dropbox/Projects/curriculum/source"

# Use "be" instead of "bundle exec" for Rails
alias be="bundle exec $1"

# Use "a" and a folder/file to launch Atom
alias a="atom $1"

# Enable git's tab-completion library
source /usr/local/etc/bash_completion.d/git-completion.bash

# shortcuts for git
alias ga="git add"
alias gb="git branch"
alias gd="git diff --patience --ignore-space-change"
alias gh="git log --pretty=format:\"%Cgreen%h%Creset %Cblue%ad%Creset %s%C(yellow)%d%Creset %Cblue[%an]%Creset\" --graph --date=short"
alias gc="git checkout"
alias gs="git status"

# programs that launch editors (e.g. git) will use Atom
export EDITOR="atom -w"

Customizing Atom

Check out the Atom docs that explain how to start customizing it: https://atom.io/docs/latest/customizing-atom


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