Install the New Default Dotfiles in TerpConnect for UNIX


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This page is based on MIT dotfiles from MIT. It has been modified to reflect the TerpConnect computer system environment. These files should not be removed from your account unless you know what you are doing.

What are the new defaults?

A new set of UNIX and X-windows defaults has been developed by the TerpConnect staff. A default is an action that a computer performs if no alternatives are specified. The system defaults can be used as a starting point for developing a personal set of defaults.

The new defaults are designed to allow the underlying computer system to be modified and upgraded without forcing customers to modify any of their customized defaults, or to have to repeatedly re-install the defaults.

The new defaults modify the behavior of five different aspects of the computer system:

  1. Terminal settings.
  2. The UNIX shell.
  3. X-windows programs.
  4. The X-windows manager.
  5. Logout processing.

These defaults are new to TerpConnect and may be different than what you are used to using. Please report any problems that you have with them.

If you don't like the defaults, this document will tell you what files you need to change. If you made changes to the old defaults, this document will tell you how to change the new defaults to incorporate your changes.

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Install the new defaults

All TerpConnect customers are urged to switch to the new defaults. This is done by typing the command:

newdefaults

If you get the message "Command not found", try entering the command:

/usr/local/scripts/newdefaults

If this does not work, contact the system staff.

The newdefaults command copies files into your home directory. If a file with the same name as a new defaults file already exists, the old existing file is renamed. This gives you a backup copy. The new name of the file consists of the file's old name concatenated with the date. For example, if the file .Xdefaults exists in your home directory and today's date is September 23, 1991, the newdefaults command will rename .Xdefaults to .Xdefaults-91-09-23, and put a new copy of .Xdefaults in its place.

The newdefaults command can be run whenever you want to get a fresh copy of the defaults. This can be useful if you make a change to a start-up file that results in undesirable behavior.

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New Default Files

Here is a brief description of each file that is copied into your home directory: 

Files that affect the shell

.cshrc

The commands in this file are performed each time a shell is started. This file contains commands that configure your shell. Do not edit this file.

.environment

This file contains customized environment variable settings in C-shell syntax. The newdefaults command gives you a .environment file with a couple of lines as an example. This file can be deleted if you do not wish to change any environment variables.

.path

This file contains your customized search path. The specified path will be used in place of the default path. The file provided by the command newdefaults gives you the same path as the system default; it is provided to give you an example of how the file should look. This file can be deleted if you do not wish to change your search path.

.cshrc.mine

This file contains commands that are performed each time a shell is started. This is the file that you use to modify shell variables. It can be deleted if you do not wish to change any variables.

.aliases 

This file contains C-shell command aliases. You can use it to add your own aliases, or re-define system aliases. This file can be deleted if you do not wish to change any aliases. Files that are used to affect terminal settings:

. login 

Commands in this file are performed each time you log in to a computer using a workstation's console or network connection. This file contains commands that configures your terminal. Do not edit this file.

.startup.tty

This file contains the customized terminal settings which are performed when logging in from a terminal. The .startup.tty can be deleted if you do not wish to change any of the terminal settings.

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Files that affect X-windows

.xinitrc

Commands in this file are performed when X-windows is started. It calls a system-wide program that performs various system functions. These functions can be overridden by using environment variables in your . environment file. Do not edit this file.

.startup.X 

This file contains commands that are performed when X-windows is started. It is called by the system file that is called by .xinitrc. It contains the commands that put up the xterms, the clock and the xbiff that you see when you log in and start X-windows. Modify this file if you wish to modify the set of tools to be run.

.Xdefaults

This file contains values of X-windows resources. These affect how X-windows applications look and act. You can override an application's default resources by adding lines to this file. The newdefaults command gives you a .Xdefaults file with a couple of lines as an example. This file can be deleted if you do not wish to change any resources.

.xserverrc

Do not modify this file.

.xsession

This is a link to your .xinitrc file. Do not modify this file. 

Files that affect logout processing

.logout

The commands in this file are performed when you log off of the system console or log in remotely. Do not edit this file.

.logout.mine

This file contains commands that you want to have performed when you log out. This file can be deleted if you do not wish to add any special commands to be performed when you log out.

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