1. Introduction

Conventions Used Here

  1. UNIX command words and their arguments are shown exactly as you should type them, including the distinction between uppercase letters and lowercase letters, which are not interchangeable on UNIX systems. For example, UNIX treats MAIL, Mail, and mail as three distinct entities.

  2. If an item is shown in italics, substitute an appropriate real value for it, such as an actual filename, user name, directory, or whatever.

  3. If an item in a command syntax line is shown in square brackets [ ], it's optional. Don't type the brackets in the command itself, but do type any other punctuation shown, such as a hyphen.

  4. If an ellipsis ... is shown, it means you can repeat the previous item shown in the syntax line.

  5. No command line is actually processed by the UNIX system until you press the Return key. In most cases, this manual does not show the Return.

  6. Type control characters by holding down the key marked Control or CTRL while you press another key. Control characters are indicated in this manual with a caret character ^. For example, ^c means hold down the Control key while you press c.

  7. The backspace key may be marked DEL, DELETE, RUB, or RUBOUT on your keyboard. DEL is used here.

To illustrate the conventions, here is the format of the cp command, which copies one or more files into a directory:

     cp [-i] [-r] file ... directory

The command name cp must be given in lower case; the -i and -r arguments may be omitted or given exactly as shown; then one or more filenames of actual files; and finally an actual directory name.

Special Characters

Many punctuation characters and control characters have special meaning to UNIX. Even before your first login, you should know the ones below. Others are given in Chapter 4, ``The Shell and Command Processing''.

Correcting Typing Mistakes

Before you press the Return key, you can correct a typing error by using:
     DEL    to erase the previous character.
     ^w     to erase the previous word.
     ^u     to discard the whole command line.

Signaling End of Input ^d

If you are typing input to a process, press ^d to signal the end of input.

If you have used a VMS or DOS system, you may be familiar with typing ^z for this purpose, but on UNIX systems, ^z suspends a process: it does not end input.

Aborting a Process or Discarding Output ^c and ^o

You can abort a process and discard its output by pressing ^c. You can also discard output or skip over part of the display by using ^o. When you do this, the program producing the output does not stop, but its output is discarded until you give another ^o or until no more output remains.

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