Setting Things Up the Way You Like

Changing your passwords

There are four passwords in our system.


Windows password.

The first time you login you will be asked for a new password.

Windows requires at least eight digits, with three out of four types

in it. The types are lowercase, Uppercase, numerial and special.

Special are one like semi colons periods etc.


Unix passwords.

You have been issued a password. Your mail and web pages are located on To login to fisher use the Xwindows on a windows terminal. Or any ssh program will let you login such as putty. One you login you change your password with the command


> passwd


It will prompt you for all the information.


You should try to keep your passwords the same for all the systems.


Windows     email,web                  sas, matlab etc.      R etc.


Any problems contact me.


Dermot Whelan – Room 6015 416-978-5166



Some programs can be customized to suit your personal circumstances or preferences. For many Unix programs, this is done by setting variables in the .profile file, which is read when you log in, and when you create another shell window.

  • Setting Unix options in your .profile file
  • Changing the shell program you use

You can also customize things by writing little shell files that do things you often want to do.

Setting Unix options in your .profile file

When you log in, or create a new xterm window, the commands kept in the file .profile in your home directory will be executed. One use of this facility is to set certain “environment variables”, which control the way various programs behave.

A sample .profile file is available, which shows how to set various useful options. You can copy this to your account by issuing the command

cp /local/doc/sample.profile .profile

when you are in your home directory (you can type “cd” to make sure of this). (Note that the ls command does not list files such as this that start with “.”, unless you give it the “-a” option.) Once you have copied the sample .profile to your directory, you can use a text editor to modify it to suit your preferences, following the directions in the comments it contains. The sample .profile has options that control the following:

  • Whether files you create are readable by other users.
  • Which key you want to use to correct typing errors.
  • Which directories should be searched for programs.
  • Which text editor you wish to use (also the line editing scheme used by the shell) .
  • Which printer you normally use.
  • Which “pager” you wish to use.
  • Commands for S/S-Plus to execute when started.
  • Which style of command line editing S-Plus uses.

If you already have a .profile file, you may still wish to take a look at the sample .profile file to see if you want to include some of the commands there in your own .profile.

Note that a new .profile file has no effect until you log in again. If you put something bad in your .profile, it’s possible that you won’t be able to log in anymore. You may be able to log in in a “failsafe” mode that bypasses your .profile, after which you can fix the .profile. Alternatively, you could find someone else who is logged in, use the command su to change to your account, and then fix it.

Changing the shell program you use

The “shell” program interprets the Unix commands that you type. By default, you will be using the “Bourne” shell, sh. Many people prefer to use the “C shell”, csh, or its extended version, tcsh, which implements line editing commands, which save on typing when you get a command slightly wrong, or want to repeat it.

There are ways of setting things up so that some other shell will be started automatically when you log in, but unfortunately, there are some complications with doing this. For the moment, if you want to use another shell, you should probably start it manually (for instance, by typing “tcsh” to the old shell). Do this after creating your usual collection of windows. If you want to exit from an xterm window in which you did this, you will need to type “exit” twice, in order to leave both shells.


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