Customizing your environment

The basics

The nice thing about a UNIX system is that it's possible to customize things to suit your requirements. The bad news is that doing so is sometimes complicated. For this reason, we have a program to help you do some of the more common customizing tasks.

From the shell, run setup.
This program is likely to clobber dot files that you already have. If you're familiar with configuring your environment, you should back up your dot files before you run it.
"setup" is a self-guiding program which lets you change your mail program, your news reader, your editor, how your name appears, and lots more.

If you use the menu system, you can do the same thing by hitting C (for Configure) at the Main Menu.

We urge you to use this program to make your changes. If you want to see what changes are actually made, you can look at your dot files (the ones that have names beginning with a period) before and after you run setup. The setup program creates some files and modified others. By looking at the "before" and "after" state of your files, you can see what changes were made.

For the technically inclined
UNIX-savvy users who want to make their own changes are welcome to do so, but they should bear in mind that we may change things around, and that configurations that work now are not necessarily going to be supported in the future.
Here are a couple of items that are apt to be problematic:
  1. Hard-coding your home directory.
    It is not advisable to use the full pathname (/net/u/*/?/*) to your home directory, because your directory may migrate. Use $HOME in any context where it will work, or use /users/[yourname] (where [yourname] is your userid), since /users is a link to all of the user files.
  2. Hard coding the default path.
    If you want to add things to the default path, you should specify that as ${PATH} in your pathname, and append or prepend the directories you wish to add. (Do not prepend the current directory, please, as that creates a security risk. Append it if you must, but consider creating a $HOME/bin directory and appending (or prepending) that to your path.)

Last Modified:Wednesday, 30-Jan-2013 12:14:10 EST
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