[mandelbrot set] MATH DEPT Computer News, Volume 1

You and your .cshrc file

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Network News, vol. 18

The math department network has changed recently with the addition of solaris machines and a new policy of installing programs like MAPLE as "packages" in directories of their own. I shall try to explain what the general user needs to know in order to take advantage of these changes and to avoid certain problems.

If you want your .cshrc problems solved with an absolute minimum of effort, here is a sample .csrhc file that is easy to install and modify, or you can try this link:

MATH DEPT .cshrc Delivery System.

Just fill out the form and follow the simple instructions.

What is Solaris?

Most UNIX users will not notice the difference between a solaris machine and a non-solaris machine. It is only at the level of setting up accounts that solaris and sunos differ. The changes in our system require you to know a couple things about this.

To test whether or not you are currently logged on to a solaris machine (i.e., a machine that uses the solaris operating system), type

uname -r

If the output of this command looks like 4.1.3_U1 (or 4.something), then you are not on a solaris machine. You are on a machine that uses the old sunos operating system. We will call this type of machine a sunos machine.

If the output of the uname -r command looks like 5.5.1 (or 5.something), then you are on a solaris machine.

A sticky problem that has recently come up is that the UNIX path variable needs to be set differently on the two different operating systems.

What is your path?

To see your current path, type

echo $path

You will see a list of UNIX directory names separated by spaces. This is where UNIX looks for the commands that you type. (For example, the rm command is in /usr/local/bin on a sunos machine and in /usr/bin on a solaris machine. If these directories are not in your path, UNIX won't know what the rm command is.)

The bare bones of your path are set by the system in a file called


that is called by your personal .cshrc whenever you open a new window (or shell). You will want to add some lines to your personal .cshrc file (which resides in your home directory) to add some commands to your path. For example, to add the new TeX to your path on sunos machines, you will want to add the line

set path=( /usr/local/teTeX/bin/sparc-sunos4.1.3_U1 $path )

to your .cshrc file at a point below the line that looks like

source /usr/share/standard/sys.cshrc

NOTE: To determine the version of TeX that you are using right now, you can type

which amstex

If the output of this command is


then you are using the old TeX and you won't be happy with it for very much longer.

To add the new MAPLE V release 4 to your path on sunos machines, you will add the line

set path=( /usr/local/maple/bin $path )

To add the new Acrobat3 package to your path on sunos machines (so that you can view and create TeX files on the web in the form of .pdf files), you will add the line

set path=( /usr/local/Acrobat3/bin $path )

You can add several packages at once like this:

set path=( /usr/local/{maple,Acrobat3,netpbm,mh}/bin $path )

The same things can be done on solaris machines via lines like this:

set path=( /usr/local/teTeX/bin/sparc-solaris2.5.1 $path )
set path=( /opt/{maple,Acrobat3,netpbm,mh}/bin $path )

To see other "packages" that you might want to add to your path, on sunos type

ls -d /usr/local/*/bin

and on solaris, type

ls -d /opt/*/bin

(and see also Brad Lucier's e-mail at the bottom of this page).

If you log on to both sunos and solaris machines at various times, you will want to add a "switch" command to your .cshrc file so that your path is modified correctly depending on what kind of machine you are on. The following sequence of lines works nicely:

switch (`uname -r`)      # those are backquotes around uname -r
      case 5*:
        set system=solaris
        set system=sunos

switch ($system)

   case sunos:
   set path = ( /usr/local/teTeX/bin/sparc-sunos4.1.3_U1 \
        /usr/local/{maple,Acrobat3,netpbm,mh}/bin \
        $path \
        ~/bin \
        . )

   case solaris:
   set path = ( /usr/local/teTeX/bin/sparc-solaris2.5.1 \
        /opt/{maple,Acrobat3,netpbm,mh}/bin \
        $path \
        ~/bin \
        . )


If you don't want to risk botching up your .cshrc file, click HERE, fill out the form, follow the simple instructions, then click on SUBMIT at the bottom of the form. A sample .cshrc file will be displayed that you can download and install (or you can just study it as an example). We have not covered the problem of expanding your MANPATH variable here, but this problem is handled in the .cshrc file generated at the link above. If you want to know more about your MANPATH, follow this link:

You and your MANPATH.

More information is available at

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