Computer Science 340
Programming Languages

Fall 2019, Siena College

Lab 1: GitHub and Unix
Due: 9:10 AM, Friday, September 13, 2019

This first lab exercise is intended to get you set up to use your account on, to familiarize you with git and GitHub, and to make sure you can edit, compile, and run a simple C program.

You will be assigned a partner (or two) to work with on this lab. Only one submission per group is needed.

Getting Set Up

You will receive an email with the link to follow to set up your GitHub repository for this lab (unix-lab-yourgitname). If you are working on this problem set with a partner, one member of the group should follow the link to set up the repository on GitHub. Your problem set partner will receive a subsequent email with a link to follow that will grant them the rights to clone the repository and commit and push changes to the origin on GitHub.

Please answer lab questions in the file in your group's GitHub repository.

Trying out GitHub and noreaster

Before you can do this task, you need to have an account on noreaster and know your username and password. You also need to have the GitHub classroom link (sent by email) to be able to create your repository for this lab's work.

Log into your account on with Secure Shell. From Windows, one way to do this is to use PuTTY. From a Mac, a Windows Git Bash window, or a Unix/Linux system, you will use the ssh command in a terminal window. Once successfully connected, you should see a prompt that looks something like this:

[jcool@noreaster ~]$ 

Next, create a directory (that's our grown up computer scientist Unix word for what Microsoft and Apple want you to call a "folder") for your work for this course. If you want to name it "pl", use the command:

mkdir pl

Then change your working directory to that new directory:

cd pl

Now, create your GitHub repository for this lab. To do so, open a browser window at and sign in. In the same browser, visit the link you received in your email. This should bring you do a page where you can "Accept the unix-lab assignment". Do so. If that worked, the next page will have a link to a GitHub URL which is your copy of this lab's repository. Follow it.

You are now on the main page for your repository.

Let's add your names to the file in the repository on GitHub. Click on its name, then in the window that comes up, click on the little pencil icon near the "Raw", "Blame", and "History" buttons to bring up GitHub's simple editor.

You'll be editing in a simple markup language called Markdown (please click here and read about it). Add your name to the file, then scroll down to the bottom and "Commit changes". You can leave the radio buttons above that set to "Commit directly to the master branch." Once you've commited your changes, you should now see the file displayed with your additions.

To get back to the main view of your repository, click on the "<> Code" tab.

Next, click on the green "Clone or Download" and copy the URL that pops up. Go back to your terminal window on noreaster and type

git clone ...

replacing ... with the URL you copied from the web page.

When prompted, log in with your GitHub credentials. You should then see some messages, and a new directory will be created. Change into that directory with the cd command, then list the contents with ls. You should see two files: and hello340.c, which are the same two files that were in the repository on the GitHub site.

Before going further, we have a bit of configuration to do for your git setup on noreaster. Issue these commands (replacing with your own GitHub username and your email, of course) at the terminal prompt:

git config --global "jcool"
git config --global ""

One of those files is a C program, so let's compile and run it on noreaster. You should be in the directory with the and hello340.c files. First, let's take a look at the C program. You can see its contents with the command

cat hello340.c

We'll modify the file in a minute, but first let's compile and run this version. At your command prompt, type

gcc hello340.c

If this is successful, you should just get your prompt back in a second or so. This is typical of Unix: if a command is completed successfully, you will not get any output. "No News is Good News."

Run the ls command, and notice a new file listed: a.out. This is an executable file. To execute it, you can issue the command


If all goes well, you should see the "Hello, CSIS 340 world!" printout.

Now, make a couple changes to the C program. Launch the Emacs editor to make those changes.

emacs hello340.c

For now, just use the arrow keys to navigate around (the mouse won't work, and the text-based menus at the top are more trouble than they're worth) and put your names in the comment at the top, and add at least one more printf statement to print additional messages. When you're done, type Ctrl-x then Ctrl-s to save your file, then Ctrl-x then Ctrl-c to exit Emacs. (3 points)

Recompile and re-run your program to make sure it works. If it does, run it one more time, but this time capturing its output in a file: (2 points)

./a.out > hello340.txt

If you list the files in your directory, you'll now see hello340.txt as well. You can see its contents with the cat command.

So you now have two copies of the repository, one on the GitHub server (the "origin" repository) and one in your account on noreaster (a "clone"). Later in the semester, you might have multiple clones in various places (noreaster, lab computers, maybe your own computer) and will want to be able to keep them in sync. Your clone has changes (2 new files, and one modified file) that are not in the origin on GitHub.

git knows what's changed, so let's ask it:

git status

You should see something like this:

On branch master
Your branch is up-to-date with 'origin/master'.
Changes not staged for commit:
  (use "git add <file>..." to update what will be committed)
  (use "git checkout -- <file>..." to discard changes in working directory)

	modified:   hello340.c

Untracked files:
  (use "git add <file>..." to include in what will be committed)


no changes added to commit (use "git add" and/or "git commit -a")

This means there is one file that git "knows about" that has changed: hello340.c, and there are two files that git doesn't know about: a.out and hello340.txt.

Since a.out is an executable file that gets generated from the C file, we don't want to store that in our repository. We'll ignore it for now. But the hello340.txt file is one we want to put in the repository (only because it's part of the grading). We can tell git to start tracking it with

git add hello340.txt

If you rerun the git status command, it should now be listed as a new file.

Once we're happy with a change or set of changes to files in our repository, we need to commit those changes to the repository. In this case, we will issue a command for each file, with an appropriate message in each:

git commit -m "Added name and extra printout." hello340.c
git commit -m "Required output capture." hello340.txt

Now a git status command should show something like this:

On branch master
Your branch is ahead of 'origin/master' by 2 commits.
  (use "git push" to publish your local commits)
Untracked files:
  (use "git add <file>..." to include in what will be committed)


nothing added to commit but untracked files present (use "git add" to track)

Your changes have been committed to the clone, but they are not yet back up on the origin repository on GitHub. To do that, you will use

git push

This is short for "git push origin master", which says push the changes from this repository to the origin on the master branch. So far, we have not created any branches, so everything is on the master.

If your push command is successful, you should now see your changes reflected on GitHub (in the web page).

Now let's make a change right in the GitHub repository and then pull it down to our clone on noreaster. Edit the file again to include a bulleted list of the git commands you used in this lab. Use Markdown to make it look pretty. When you are done, include a meaningful commit message and use the green button to commit your changes. (4 points)

Now the repository on GitHub has changes that aren't in your clone. Back on noreaster, we want to "pull down" the changes:

git pull

Now, your on noreaster should include the changes you made on GitHub.

More Unix Command Line

GUIs are nice, but they can be slow to navigate and too restrictive for some purposes. When logged into noreaster, in a Mac Terminal, or in a Git Bash window under Windows, you are working in a Unix environment and interacting with the system by typing commands at the Unix shell, or command line. When you log in or open one of these terminals, you will be presented with a prompt. This is your direct interface to issue commands to the operating system. When you type a command here, the shell will execute the command on your behalf, print out any results, then reissue the prompt.

Of course, the command line is useless if you don't know what commands it understands. You will learn about several important commands in this lab and many more throughout the semester. One of the most important is man - the Unix manual. Every Unix command has a manual page, including man. To see the manual page about man, type the command:

      man man

Navigating the Directory Structure

Each program in a Unix system, including your shell, maintains the notion of a working directory. That is where the program will look for files unless instructed to do otherwise. You'll hear Unix users asking a question like "What directory are you in?" and the answer to this is your working directory.

When you first open a shell or connect to a server remotely, your home directory is your working directory. The command pwd will instruct the shell to print your working directory.

Question 1: What is your home directory on (use pwd immediately after logging in) (1 point)

You can also list the contents of your working directory with the command ls.

Question 2: What output do you see when you issue the ls command on (1 point)

Other important operations to navigate and modify the directory structure are changing your working directory (cd), creating a new directory (mkdir), and removing a directory (rmdir).

Create a directory in your account within your directory you created earlier for work in this course, but not inside the directory containing your clone of the git repository, to use for the for your work the next few minutes (labstuff might be a good name).

Question 3: Change your working directory to the one you just created and issue the pwd command. What does this show as your working directory? (1 point)

In your shell window and in your home directory (note: you can always reset your working directory to be your home directory by issuing the command cd with no parameters), issue this command:

      uname -a > freebsd.txt

This will execute the command uname -a, which prints a variety of information about the system you are on, and "redirects" the output, which would normally be printed in your terminal window, to the file freebsd.txt.

Unix Commands

Identify the function of and experiment with these Unix commands (a few of which you have already used):

ls    cd      cp      mv     rm     mkdir   pwd
man   chmod   cat     more   grep   head    tail
ln    find    rmdir   wc     diff   tar     touch

Question 4: Give a one sentence description of each command. (5 points total)

Using appropriate commands from the above list, move the freebsd.txt file you created in your home directory into the directory containing your clone of this lab's repository.

Show that this has worked by issuing the following command from inside of your course directory:

	ls -laR > ls.out

Then move the file ls.out into your repository's directory. (1 point)

Use appropriate git commands to tell git to track these two new files (freebsd.txt and ls.out) and to get them into the repository's origin on GitHub. (2 points)


Your submission requires that all required deliverables are committed and pushed to the master for your repository's origin on GitHub. That's it! If you see everything you intend to submit when you visit your repository's page on GitHub, you're set.


This assignment is worth 20 points, which are distributed as follows:

> FeatureValueScore
Additions to hello340.c 3
hello340.txt 2
git command list 4
Question 1 1
Question 2 1
Question 3 1
Question 4 5
ls.out 1
Files in GitHub 2
Total 20