Dotfile Configurations in TerpConnect for UNIX

This page is based on MIT dotfiles from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (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.

Other Dotfiles for Customization


This file is generally used to put information you want people to see when you are fingered. If you want to make information available this way, the file must be publicly readable.


File commonly created if you use a lot of aliases to keep the ~/.cshrc.mine file more readable. Example of items you would enter in your ~/.alias file:


The program zaway uses this file. ~/.away contains the message that is sent to people who Zephyr you when you use the zaway program. For information about and how to customize zaway enter the following command:
  z:~: man zaway

~/.emacs and ~/.emacs20

Used to customize the program Emacs. For more information, See Use the Emacs Text Editor in UNIX.

~/.mailcap, ~/.maillock and ~/.mh_profile

These are not user customizable files. These files are used by some mail programs and should not be altered by hand.


mozilla is a directory where all of Firefox's customization and history files are stored.

~/.newsrc,~/.oldnewsrc and others

These are files created by news readers that contain information about your preferences, what groups you read and other state information. As of December 2008, the Division of Information Technology no longer supports a Usenet    news server. This file is a remnant of that service, and can be removed.


Customization files for windowmanagers. One of the most common changes made to dotfiles is switching the default windowmanager to something else and/or making changes to your windowmanager settings. The variable $windowmanager determines what windowmanager will start up when you log in. You can set this variable with the following command in your ~/.environment file. 

setenv windowmanager mwm

Fvwm2 is the default windowmanager, but twm and mwm are other popular windowmanagers. The windowmanagers locker contains information about various windowmanagers and the standard dotfiles for many of them, as well as the associated binaries (program). The files associated with mwm and twm customize the key bindings, menus, appearance, and other settings for the windowmanager.

If you kill the windowmanager, all uniconified windows will be visible on the screen and may cover an xterm. You will not be able to move, raise or lower windows. Be sure an xterm will remain visible.

The windowmanager may display unusual behavior if you made an error in your customizations. The windowmanager may fail to start or be in a strange configuration. If there is an error in a windowmanager file, it stops sourcing the file at that point. Usually there will be an error message in the console window that says which line failed. 


Contains information about the zephyr classes and instances to which you subscribe. You do not have to edit this file by hand; the zctl add and zctl delete commands write information to this file automatically. Information is stored in the format Class, instance, recipient

Your file might look a bit like this if you subscribe to instance help, instance b5, and class my-friends.


For more information about zephyr, zctl commands and zephyr related dotfiles, see Overview and Main Concepts of Zephyr.


Contains the information you provide with the zctl set command. This is Zephyr's way of letting you set variables and customize its behavior to some extent. Signature and exposure information is kept here.


Describes how windowgrams will appear on your screen. The prototype of this file is located in /usr/athena/lib/zephyr/zwgc.desc This can be copied into your home directory and modified. ~/.zwgc/desc is a tcsh script, unlike most of your other dotfiles.