Introduction to Software Development Tooling

Homework 1: CLI, Investigative

Important: use Bash!

For this and all future assignments, please make sure you are using Bash as your shell, as that’s what this course will focus on for the reasons described in lecture. The Tufts CS department’s default shell for new users is tcsh, so unless you’ve asked to have yours changed1, you’ll need to run bash -l each time you connect to the server prior to working on coursework. Your prompt won’t look any different after running this command, but you can run echo $0 to check which shell you’re using.

CaLIsthenics: what’s on the homework server?

Many software engineers use the command-line in their day-to-day lives. The whole “command-line experience” is composed of a bunch of programs, working together, to help you solve problems.

Since we’re going to be using the command-line frequently in this course, developing muscle memory is going to be important. Building an intuition for what commands to use when will come in handy.

To get started, you’re going to poke around the homework server using the tools we discussed in lecture. You’ll get some hands-on experience with pwd, cd, ls, cat, tree, and man. Please answer the following questions and “show your work” (see Grading on the syllabus for an example) with each:

  1. When you log into the homework server, what directory are you in?
  2. How many files are in your current directory? How many directories?
  3. Give a relative path that you can use to refer to this course’s directory, which lives at /comp/50ISDT/, while in your home directory. Remember that relative paths cannot start with a slash.
  4. The website for this course, among other things, lives in our directory at /comp/50ISDT/. Take a look around! What’s the password?
  5. How can you make cat number each line in a file? (Answer this question without referencing the internet, please!)
  6. Files inside the special filesystem /dev/ are used to communicate with the Linux kernel. Choose a file that looks interesting inside /dev/ and tell us what it’s for. You are free to use Google or any other internet or printed resource, but cite your source.
  7. /etc/ is a standard directory on Linux that contains system configuration files. Although file extensions (like .txt and .jpg) have no intrinsic meaning on Linux, many configuration files in /etc/ have them anyway.

    Write a shell pipeline that prints the top ten most frequently occurring extensions of files inside /etc/, taking the “extension” to be the part of a file’s name that occurs after the final . character. Your count should include files in subdirectories, except those you don’t have permission to see. You may include or omit files that have no extension from the count at your discretion.

    Your output should contain ten lines (unless there are fewer than ten unique extensions inside /etc/). Each line should include the extension (with or without the dot, at your discretion) and a count of files with that extension. We do not care about whitespace, field order, or whether each line includes extra fields beyond these two.

    Hint: \.[^/.]*$ is a regular expression that matches a literal dot (.), followed by any number of characters that are not a dot or a forward slash, followed by the end of a line. In other words, it matches the extension of files from line(s) containing file paths.

    This is not a trivial problem. Expect to have several different commands in your pipeline. Please ask for help early if you are struggling.

Exploring files: murder mystery in /comp/50ISDT/!

There was a murder last night at your old university colleague David’s dinner party! A guest found a body in the living room, and nobody knows who did it. You, the premiere private investigator in Medford, MA, have been called in to help. Explore David’s magnificent mansion (represented conveniently by a directory tree in /comp/50ISDT/cli1-murder-mystery/) to see what you can find! Start your journey in the entryway.

Please provide the name of the murderer (and an outline of your investigation) as your answer.

Submitting your work

Please format your answers in a text file, answers.txt, split into two sections (CaLIsthenics and mystery), and numbered where appropriate.

When you are done, submit your work with provide comp50isdt cli-investigative answers.txt. You must be logged into the homework server to use Provide.

  1. On most Linux systems, you can use the chsh command to change your own shell, but this method doesn’t work on the Tufts homework servers. This is because they don’t store user account information (including each account’s shell) locally, but rather in a centrally-managed database of students and staff, which only the department administrators can modify. To change your default shell to bash, write an email to