Let’s know about Python basics

Categories: Python

Let’s know about Python basics


To do the labs and the problem sets, you will need some basic computer skills. I will outline these briefly here. The instructions below assume that the exercises will be done using what I’ll call the default setup. In the default setup, the course software and the necessary datasets reside on a centralized server; the student logs on to the server from a workstation that supports the ssh protocol and the X windowing system. The X window system is needed to allow a remote server to write graphics (e.g., a plot, or a graphical user interface) to the screen of the local workstation. The specific instructions below apply most closely to Unix workstations.

 The necessary skills for using the default setup are:

  • Logging in to a Linux server from a workstation on the network.
  • Setting things up for the Linux machine to display its graphics on the workstation you are sitting at, using the X windowing system.
  • Working with Linux directories and files (commands cd,ls,mv,rm,mkdir).
  • Starting up the Python interpreter and using the Python Integrated Development Environment, idle.


Using xterms and logging in to the server

The software that you will be using, as well as the data you will be looking at, resides on a server running the Unix operating system. In the examples, we will suppose that the server is climate.myUniversity.edu; your own server will have a different name, which will be provided by your instructor. To use the oftware, you will need to log into climate, which you can do from any machine anywhere in the world, as long as the machine has an ssh program. The first step is to get an X terminal window (”xterm” for short) on the screen of the workstation at which you are sitting. If your workstation is a Unix computer the standard window you get when you request a ”shell” or a ”terminal” window is already an xterm, assuming the system has been started up into a graphical user environment, as is generally the case these days. To get a new xterm, you just need to click on the appropriate icon on the desktop. The specific icon varies somewhat from system to system, but will generally look like a scallop shell or a computer screen.

Macs running OSX are actually running a form of Unix, but the default graphical interface does not use the X windowing system. This will be less confusing if you recall that the ”X” in ”OSX” is actually pronounced ”10”. The standard terminal, or shell, window you get with the OSX terminal tool is not an xterm. While you can

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