SITC Holds Workshop on the Unix/Linux Command Line

The Dean of the School of IT & Computing (SITC), Dr. Mathias Fonkam, and Alexey Vedishchev, an SITC Lab Teaching instructor, were presenters at an SITC workshop held March 31, 2017.  

The workshop gave participants a hands-on introduction ("tip of the iceberg" as the dean warned) to the Ubuntu Linux command line with emphasis on some common bash shell  commands, the UNIX file system organization, file permissions, and some mention of a few advanced capabilities to be covered in later sessions.              

Dean Fonkam started the workshop by explaining why students and computing practitioners need to acquire command line skills (rather than the limited user skills one will get working with a GUI or Graphical User Interface environment like the Windows desktop).  In essence the dean noted that real power and control of the computer as a tool for problem-solving comes with knowledge and experience of the command line that makes it possible to automate additional capabilities beyond those readily available on the system or downloadable from elsewhere.  In particular, he stressed that it was important for all computing majors, especially Computer science and software engineering majors, to acquire technical sophisticated of  the Unix command line tools, noting that the capabilities of the Linux/Unix command line were far superior to those of the Windows operating system.  In the dean’s write up on the workshop, he had noted that: “Most of the world's computing platforms on the Internet, data center servers driving Cloud Computing, and even mobile devices are based on Unix/Linux operating system.”  The dean went on to demonstrate common Linux commands for the bash shell, the file system and managing the security permissions of a UNIX file system.

Mr. Vedishchev reiterated that knowledge of the Unix/Linux command line was especially relevant to the computing students and IT support staff, because most open source software,  and those used to host the University’s software project and publish content on the website, run on UNIXes.  To be able to manipulate and control access to these systems, he said, one needs the command line and NOT GUI (or Graphical User Interface) skills.  “If something happens in Canvas, you have to login using the command line.  It does not have mouse.  And many servers in the world work the same way.”  He said the command line usage is not for regular computer users but for advanced users, system developers, and administrators. He said Computer Science and Software Engineers who really want to go into developing and maintaining software cannot avoid using the command line--or will be seriously disadvantaged if they avoid the command line.  He advised AUN students who want to become IT professionals to master it.  “You will need it one day.  It is better to get prepared now and learn it.  You will need it one day soon!”

Ms. Amal Babangida, Team Lead of the IT Software Support Unit, attended with a couple of other staff on her IT support team.  She said it was a good topic and a skill building opportunity for them with direct application to their jobs.

By Omorogbe Omorogiuwa

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