Technical Jargon

Assembly is a low-level programming language, and is generally considered to be the lowest level possible to get to in a programming language without starting to deal with 1s and 0s. For the most part, it is fiendishly difficult to understand.

The Bourne-Again SHell, a more advanced version of the Bourne SHell. bash is the default shell assigned to users when the adduser command is used.

The command line-line is the prompt in the Unix shell where the user types in various commands to the system, for example, telling it to start or end various programs.

Hubs are ethernet equipment. Multiple computers can be physically connected to a hub, and any data that one computer sends out to the hub will be propigated to all the computers attached to the hub.

IP Address
An IP Address is the address of a computer on the Internet.

The kernel is the absolute bare-bones required of an Operating System. Recently, the line of what constitutes and OS and what is an added but unnecessary feature has been greatly in the news. (See the Justice Department vs. Microsoft over Windows 98's inclusion of Internet Explorer as part of the OS for an example!) However, the kernel essentially controls the processor, and handles requests put in from outside the processor for processor time, as well as helping to translate those requests into a language that the processor can understand. For more information regarding what an OS is and what an OS isn't, CS 341 is an excellent resource for Wellesley College students.

man is short for manual. Since Unix was originally designed to rely entirely upon command-line input, and since the original designers wanted to have to type in as little as possible to make their time at the keyboard shorter, many of the commands are to the point of incomprehensiblity.

A standardized package of data that is passed over the internet. Any file that is passed over the Internet is packaged into a packet (or multiple packets if it's a large file,) and these packets are then sent to their destination, where they are reassembled into the original file.

The hard drive is partitioned at the installation of the Linux operating system. Partitioning breaks the hard drive up into several smaller pieces, which allows Linux to utilize the hard drive space more efficiently and faster. The standard partitions are the / partition, the /usr partition, the /tmp partition, the /home partition, and the /var partition, as well as two Swap partitions, which are each the same size as the amount of RAM in the computer.

password sniffing
Because data on the internet is often passed in unencrypted packets, it is possible to set up a program on any computer receiving packets and use it to "sniff" the packets for important data, including passwords. Any data passed over the internet that is not encrypted is subject to sniffing, and crackers will often set up programs to collect passwords that will allow them to break into new machines.

RJ45 Ethernet Cable
RJ45 ethernet cord consists of ten wires in a round casing with plugs on each end of the cord that look like a phone jack on steroids.

RPM stands for RedHat Package Manager; I like to think of RPMs as RedHat Packaged Modules. RPMs are programs that have been precompiled on other Linux machines so that they can be copied over with minimal fuss to an existing working Linux machine. This saves the end-administrator the work of downloading a zipped file, unzipping it, and then installing it. However, RPMs are also preconfigured, so if the administrator wants to change anything, she will need to delete the RPM and go through the work of downloading and installing the program from scratch.

A shell is a particular "window" within which commands can be issued to the Linux system, and those commands will be executed from within that shell, and associated with that particular metaphorical window. Each user logs in to a specific shell, and multiple logins create mulitple shells. Shells are called shells because they are an interface between the user and the kernel, translating the user's comands to something that the kernel can understand, and translating the kernel's response to the user into something that the user can understand.

Since shells don't always speak the same "language, there are various types of shells for various purposes. The default Linux user shell is bash. Other shells installed with the Linux system are tcsh and ash.

source code
The code that is compiled to form a program. Anything that a programmer writes is called source code. Once the source code has been run through a compiler, it becomes a program that will run on its own but can no longer be modified. Freely available source code means that it is possible to modify the code and re-compile it to create an altered version of the program.

A flavor of the c shell, necessary to run various types of Perl scripts and CGIs, as well as one of the more popular user interface shells.

UTP cable
UTP stands for Unshielded-Twisted-Pair. UTP cable is cable designed to handle high-speed data transmissions. The speed at which data can reliably travel along the cable is determined by how many twists there are in the wires; each strand of wire within the cable is paired with another strand and twisted a certain number of times per foot. These twists cancel out any interference that is generated by electrical fields that the cable goes through. Wellesley's UTP cable is category 3, which means it is rated to reliably handle 10 Megabit per second transmissions across it. Ethernet cards are now being released which can send data at 100Mbps. However, Wellesley's category 3 wire cannot handle this speed of data. Unless all the dorms are rewired with category 5 wire, the College will remain at 10Mbps as top speed for some time.

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  • Created: April 10, 1999
  • Last updated: May 13, 1999