IT 244: Introduction to Linux/Unix

Instructor Glenn Hoffman Email ghoffman "at" cs "dot" umb "dot" edu
Office Science 3-92A Office Hours Tuesday & Thursday 11:00 AM - Noon, 3:30 - 5:00 PM
and by appointment
Schedule Tuesday & Thursday
2:00 - 3:15 PM
Classroom Wheatley 2-200
Phone 617-821-3936 Web


Math 115

Course Description

This course will introduce you to the Linux/Unix operating system and the Bash shell.

All work in this course will be done at the command line on a Linux machine on the Computer Science Department network.

The command line is harder to use than the graphical user interfaces you are used to.

But the command line is more powerful and gives you full access to all the features of the operating system.


The text for this course is A Practical Guide to Linux Commands, Editors, and Shell Programming by Mark G. Sobell, Prentice Hall
ISBN-10: 013308504X | ISBN-13: 978-0133085044

Mark Sobell is a well known author of Unix/Linux books.

I have read several such books over the years and this is the best I have encountered.

You can buy this book from Amazon.

What Happens in Class

This is a combined lecture and lab course.

I will speak for a while at the beginning of the class.

After my prepared material, there will be an ungraded quiz.

The purpose of the ungraded quiz is to help you remember the new material we have covered.

After you have completed the quiz I will hand out a Class Exercise.

You will work on the exercise for the remainder of the class.

There will also be weekly graded quizzes.

Course Work

In each class you will receive a Class Exercise, which consists of code that you must copy and run on our Unix systems.

You must work on each exercise in class so I can help you if you run into trouble.

If you cannot complete the exercise in class, you may finish it later.

Class Exercises for the week must be submitted by Sunday at 11:59 PM.

Each Class Exercise will be graded on completion.

If the code does everything it should do and does not show any errors, you will receive the full 100 points for that exercise.

There will be two types of quizzes

The Class Quizzes are administered at the end of each class and are not graded.

The purpose of the Class Quizzes is to help you learn the material.

Studies have shown that taking a quiz immediately after hearing new material helps you learn.

The Weekly Quizzes are graded.

Their purpose is to encourage you to study the material as we go along, and not postpone this until just before the exams.

All questions on the Weekly Quizzes come from the ungraded Class Quizzes.

They will usually cover the material from the previous week.

The weekly graded quizzes will be given in the first class of the week, starting on the third week of class.

If you miss this class your only other opportunity to take the quiz, will be the following class.

There will usually be a weekly reading assignment from the textbook.

There will be weekly homework assignments.

There will be two exams


I will take attendance in each class.

I do this to learn your names.

Your attendance will not directly affect your grade.

But I am more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt when grading if you have been regularly attending class.

Grading Policy

All homework and exams are subject to the University's Code of Conduct.

Plagiarism is not tolerated in any form.

Grades will be computed as follows

Class Exercises15%
Weekly Quizzes20%
Mid-term Exam20%
Final Exam30%

Final grades will be assigned based on the following standard scale

A> 100 - 93 (the Registrar does not accept an A+ grade)
A -92 - 90
B +89 - 86
B85 - 83
B -82 - 80
C +79 - 76
C75 - 73
C -72 - 70
D +69 - 66
D65 - 63
D -62 - 60
F< 60

Late Work

Scoring assignments takes a great deal of time.

In order to do this as efficiently as possible, I score each assignment once and only once.

All assignments are due on Sunday at 11:59 PM, but I do not score them until the following weekend.

I run a collection script many times during the week after an assignment is due, usually on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

If my scripts cannot find your assignment, you will get an email message to that effect.

You will lose 2 points for each day an assignment is late, and will get a 0 for the assignment if is not in the proper directory when I run the collection script for the last time on Saturday.

If you have a personal emergency, contact me I will give you an appropriate extension.

Email Notification

You will receive a grading sheet for all quizzes, tests, and graded quizzes.

You will also receive emails when a due date has passed for an assignment.

If a class needs to be cancelled due to a storm I will send an email to all students.

These will be sent to your UMB email address.

For this reason, it is important that you forward your UMB email to an account you check regularly.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 offers guidelines for curriculum modifications and adaptations for students with documented disabilities.

Students may obtain adaptation recommendations from the Ross Center for Disability Services.

Their web site is

A student must present these recommendations and discuss them with me within a reasonable period, preferably by the end of Add/Drop period.

Classroom Behavior

I put a lot of work into my classes.

If I see you looking furtively at your cell phone while I'm talking, I wonder why I am doing this.

If I hear you having an extensive conversation with your neighbor, it makes me feel that I am wasting my time here.

I could make more money doing other things, but I find this work important.

I work hard to teach you important material.

Please respect that effort while you are in this room.


If you have a laptop, you should bring it to class.

You will need it to work on the Class Exercises.

You should not use a laptop during the lecture part of the class.

Studies have shown that students who use laptops in class do less well than students who don't.

You can read a summary of these results here and here .

If you insist on using your laptop while I am speaking you must fill out a form that I will give you.

On this form you will enter your name, Student ID and date.

You must fill out this form for each class where you take notes.

Then you must email me a copy of the notes you took in class by Sunday at 11:59 PM.

If you do not, you will lose 5 points on the Weekly Quiz for each class where you did not email your notes.

Academic Honesty

The Academic Honesty section the Code of Student Conduct of the University reads as follows

It is the expressed policy of the University that every aspect of academic life not only formal coursework situations, but all relationships and interactions connected to the educational process shall be conducted in an absolutely and uncompromisingly honest manner. The University presupposes that any submission of work for academic credit indicates that the work is the student’s own and is in compliance with University policies. In cases where academic dishonesty is discovered after completion of a course or degree program, sanctions may be imposed retroactively, up to and including revocation of the degree. Any student who reasonably believes another student has committed an act of academic dishonesty should inform the course instructor of the alleged violation.

Office Hours

My office is Science 3-92A.

It has a pterosaur poster on the door, so it is hard to miss.

My office hours are Tuesday & Thursday 11:00 AM - Noon and 3:30 - 5:00 PM.

You do not need an appointment to see me during office hours.

I am usually on campus on Wednesday, but you need to make an appointment if you want to see me on Wednesday.

If you need to see me but cannot make it to office hours, send me an email and we will make arrangements.

Class Discussion Area

If you have questions about the material or the assignments, you should post them to the class discussion area.

This discussion area is provided by Piazza, which is a platform to help students share information.

You need to register for the discussion area, which you can do at

The URL for the discussion area is

If you find yourself stuck on anything, post it here.

I will check Piazza frequently and answer question as they appear.

If you see a question and know the answer, you can respond to it on Piazza.

I will check these replies and approve or modify them as appropriate.

You can post questions anonymously on Piazza, if you prefer.

Contacting Me

If you have questions about your status in the class, email me at

If you have question about any of the material we cover in class or an assignment, post in on Piazza.