There is a history behind this
documentation, and people involved have been Prof. J.N.P. Hume, Jim
Clarke, John DiMarco, Matthew Lee, Lloyd Smith, Michelle Craig, Diane
Horton, Darrell Grainger, Paul Gries and Sue McGlashan.
Introduction For New Computer Science Students On CDF
Department of Computer Science
University of Toronto
Welcome to your Computer Science course at the University of Toronto. We hope you enjoy the
The Department of Computer Science has
a number of student computing laboratories on the St. George campus. Together, they make up the CDF ("Computing Discipline Facility"). The computers in our CDF labs
run a Linux operating system.
The department displays information about undergraduate matters in a number of ways. It would be useful to you to bookmark the Undergraduate Community as your main source of information. CDF's main page will also have announcements, and key announcements are summarized in the message you see when you login to cdf. It is worth taking the time to read it.
- 24 workstations, one printer
- open during library hours
- This room is at the north end of the second floor. To get to it, go into the main entrance of the library, and pass through the turnstiles. To the right of the Loan Services desk, there is an elevator and stairs. Go to the second floor, and the computers are in room 2360.
- A number of labs:
BA2210, BA2220, BA2240, BA3175, BA3185, BA3195, and the Great Hall with between 12 to 24 machines each.
- 24 hour access with student card, except during tutorials.
- BA3175 and BA3195 for tutorial sessions during the day (M-F). They are available for general student use evenings and weekends, and at times during the day when they are not booked.
Account and Password
Each student using the system must be
enrolled in a Computer Science course. You will automatically be
issued an account; to use it, you will need to know your account
name (also called your "logon name", "login"
or "user name") and your password. You will use the
same account for all your Computer Science courses, unless you are
accepted into a CSC program, in which case you are eligible to
request a program account. The difference is described in the CDF
Guide, and you can request a program account
Accounts are prefixed by ‘c#’, where # corresponds to the last digit of the year you get your account (eg 5 for 2005) and then the first six letters of your last name, as it appears on your student card. If the first six characters are shared by more than one person, accounts created later will have the last character shifted farther down in the alphabet: clarke, clarkf, … , clarkh.
If your last name is shorter than 6 letters, letters from your first name on your student card will be used to fill.
When your account is created, you will be sent email (to the address you supplied in ROSI) with the details. If you forget your account name, please use CDF Username Lookup.
Your password will initially be your student number, but you must change it the first time you log in.
See Log in to see how you log in using your account name and password.
You will be
using two limited resources: hard-disk storage and printing. Both of
these are limited by "quotas": your disk quota is
the maximum amount of file storage you may use, and your print
quota is the maximum number of pages you may print for free during the
course. We choose disk quotas that experience shows are more than
sufficient for all the work required by your course, and they will
not be increased (except if necessary to correct errors in the
system’s accounting mechanisms).
Your actual disk and print quotas are set depending on the number of courses you are enrolled in. Thus, if you are doing more courses, you get more quota.
If you use up your disk quota then you can rescue yourself simply by deleting large files that you don’t need any more. Be more careful with your printing, though: once printed, a page is gone. You can buy more pages if you like, but it’s better to be prudent with your printing. Instructions on buying more pages are given in the on-line CDF FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).
The PC system is shared by a large number of students.
It is up to each of you to behave courteously.
Each time you login, you are agreeing to the rules of conduct in the labs. You can read the rules here.
The rules are serious, as they are there to protect students and equipment, and violations could lead to an appearance before the University Tribunal and to a punishment such as lack of access to the cdf labs and academic penalties ranging from 0 in the course to expulsion from the University.
As a student of Computer Science, you are governed by the Arts and Science’s Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters.
Your instructors will also give you rules, and these should be available from your course web sites.
People who write things are usually proud of what they have produced. Its quality reveals their ability, and its ownership may produce income or academic credit. It is wrong to take for yourself ownership of someone else’s work, and wrong also to allow your own work to stand in for someone else’s.
You must not copy
any assignment from any other person. Your submission must be your
own work; collaboration between students (unless specifically
approved by the instructor) is an offence under the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters.
It is also an offence to permit another student to copy your own work. If you need advice on what is allowed and what is not, consult your instructor.
If you leave your account logged in on an unattended computer, we will assume that you meant to allow someone to copy your work. That is, if someone does copy your work, you will be considered to be guilty of an academic offence.
You must not copy any copyrighted software of the PC facility, or install software that has not been licensed for use there, unless explicitly authorized to do so. Software is very like books: you should not photocopy books without the publisher’s permission, because you would be taking away income the publisher and author are entitled to. Software is extremely easy to copy, but must be paid for all the same.
It is an offence under the University’s Code of Student Conduct to possess property that is not your own. This includes unauthorized copies of communications programs and of the programming environment used in your course.
You may, of course, copy files provided by your instructor for particular assignments.
Here is how to begin work at CDF:
- Click on an icon on the desktop to start a program.
- Select a program from the K Menu, located at the bottom left of the screen.
- Click on an icon on the panel bar at the bottom of the screen.
- Start a program from the command line. When you are ready to work at the command line, read the Student's Guide to CDF. Some of the document duplicates this one, but it is written for students going from first to second year.
- Click the X at the top right of the program window.
- If you started the program from the command line, hold down the Ctrl key and press c.
- Log out
1. Check that the computer is ready to use
If the PC’s previous user logged off properly, you should see a display
waiting for you to enter your Login and Password.
If the screen is dark when you arrive at the computer, that means the computer’s "screen saving" feature has taken over, to save energy and reduce wear on the monitor. To reactivate the screen, press any key on the keyboard.
If that doesn't work, try moving the mouse. And if that doesn’t work, check that the green "on" lights are glowing on both the monitor and the main (CPU) box. If not, press the power buttons on both.
Please do not switch the computer off under any circumstance. If it is already off, as mentioned above, you may switch it on.
If the previous user forgot to log out, you will see a complex screen desktop showing a lot of icons and windows. You must log this person off by clicking the menu icon in the bottom left of the screen desktop, and then selecting logout from the menu, and confirming the operation. After a short pause you should see the login prompt.
When you see the display welcoming you, type in your login and your password.
PLEASE NOTE. You will not see anything appearing in the password box. This is a security feature, so people cannot even see how long your password is.
Make sure you enter your login and password exactly, including upper and lower case.
The first time you log in, you will be required to change your password.
A possible problem, if you can't log in, might be that you used the letter l ("ell") instead of the digit one, 1. Similarly, you might have pressed the letter O ("oh") instead of the digit zero, 0.
3. Doing your work
When your login and password have been accepted, you’re nearly ready to start working—but
not quite. You will see a window on the desktop that gives you current information, plus the
rules for using the computer labs. After clicking okay, the Window Manager will start up,
and if it the first time you have used it, it will take a little time to set up.
Once the Window Manager has started, you will be able to start your work. There are a number of ways that you can start programs. You will be familiar with the first three.
4. What if things go wrong?
If you think a program is misbehaving, there are a number of ways you can stop it. This does not include rebooting the computer. When running a Unix operating system, there are very few times you should ever need to reboot a computer. In particular, when using the CDF computers, there may be someone else running a process on the computer you happen to be using, so you must not reboot it.
You can try the following:
There are others ways to stop programs or processes, and you can read HOWTO Stop Processes on Unix for more advanced instructions.
When you start using the CDF computers, the Window Manager you will use is KDE.
You will find that you can customize KDE in many different ways, and KDE comes with a helpful utility (see Settings in the KMenu). If at any time you want to return to the KDE defaults that were set up for you, you just need to click on the bell icon in the bottom panel of your desktop.
This section describes things you’ll often need to know about as part of preparing your coursework at CDF. The programs described here are easily accessible from the desktop, either as independent top-level icons or contained within the menu.
The CDF system changes when the system administrators think of better ways to do things, and this page may not be totally correct. You may hear about changes from messages on the system, or by simply noticing the new behaviour of a command or the existence of a new icon.
Index to common operations
Frequently Asked Questions
Your "home directory"
Security and administration
Problems and gripes
Frequently Asked Questions
Most of the time, you will find answers to the most common questions that your CDF administrators are asked on the FAQ web site and this is available to you 24 hours a day.
When you log in to CDF, you will find the files that belong to you are in a separate location, called your "home directory". Each student has a separate home directory, and no matter which computer you login to at CDF, your home directory will be available on that computer.Top of common operations
Often you won’t need to worry about this, but sometimes a command will need the complete name of a file, so you will need to include the directory as well as the basic file name.
This is one area where Unix operating systems and Microsoft Windows do treat things differently. In Unix, your home directory is just another directory on the system, except that you are the only person who has access to it.
Where is it?
Your home directory is a fundamental part of your account on Unix, so you are started in your home directory when you first login. If you want to use the full path to your home directory one way to find out is to typeWhat if it’s full?
at the command line. You will see something like
Your particular path will end with your login. NOTE the / separators between the directories. This is different from Microsoft Windows.
The "Home" icon is also a shortcut to your home directory, and will display its contents.
When you have used up all of your diskquota, your home directory is "full". This means that various programs could stop working. A file you are working on could be saved with no contents.
The administrators let you know as you login if you are over quota, so that you can immediately delete some files. Read the FAQ about Disk Quotas to find out more.
Security and administration.
When you’re ready to leave the computer, select Log Out from the K Menu, and confirm this.Your password
Don’t forget to log off! Otherwise, someone else can take advantage of your work. And if they do, you too will be responsible. If you leave your account logged in on an unattended computer, we will assume that you meant to allow someone to copy your work. That is, if someone does copy your work, you will be considered to be guilty of an academic offence.
You are responsible for all actions carried out with your account. Your password is your protection against misuse of your account by anyone else. Keep it to yourself!Changing your password
Obviously, you need a secure password: secret and hard to "crack". It is up to you to keep it secret, and it is also up to you to choose a password that is hard for anyone to guess—even someone who knows you well.
Could your password be guessed by someone who has stolen your wallet or backpack? It’s not a good one. Could your mother guess it? It’s not a good one.
And don’t tell it to your mother, either. Don’t tell it to your TA. Don’t tell it to your instructor. These people will always have you type it yourself if they need you to log in. Don’t even tell a system administrator. (System administrators don’t need your password, and don’t want to know it; they will stare at the ceiling while you type it in, if they’ve asked you to log in.)
If you accidentally reveal your password to someone, change it right away. If you accidentally find out someone’s password, tell them so they can change it right away.
Forgot your password?
The first time you log in to CDF, you must change your password.
You will be asked to read the CDF Rules, and then to change your password. You have to enter your old password, and then the new one twice, to make sure you’re typing it consistently.
Your new password will only be accepted if it passes a program designed to crack passwords. If it does not, you will be asked to enter another one. Good password rules require a mixture of upper- and lower-case letters (from the usual European alphabet), numbers and punctuation (but no spaces). It must be between 7-8 characters in length. The idea is to make it harder for an attacker to guess your password: "hiMom!" or "TrustNo1" are harder to generate automatically than "mymother" and "TRUSTME".
On the other hand, you need to be able to remember your password. Pick something that’s not totally random, such as a phone number combined with a name ("978-Fido") or a derivative of a memorable phrase (eg. Wylfwt? — Would you like fries with that?). Choose your password before going to CDF to change it, so you’ll have a clearer idea of whether you really can remember it.
Are we paranoid?
We can’t tell you what it was. Show your photo ID card to a system administrator in their office in BA3224 to have it reset to your student number. You must then reset it to what you want.
Yes. You should be too.
Problems and gripes Editing to be continued here <-->
When you’re unhappy or confused, you can send a query or complaint—a "gripe"—to the system administrators. Send e-mail to:Top of common operations
firstname.lastname@example.orgBut if it’s your course you want to gripe about, don’t mail admin. Instead, contact your instructor.
Your course instructors will give you precise instructions about submitting assignments. In many cases, you will be told to submit through the CDF secure submission web site.
For most of your printing needs, you will be able to print directly from the software you are using. The printing will be printed to the closest printer, unless you decide to change this. The printers are as follows:
Whenever you print something, the pages are counted and your printquota is reduced accordingly. There may be times when you want to cancel a print job. Please read the FAQ about Printing and the General Student Guide to CDF to find out more. Printer troubles?
Location Closest Printer 2nd Floor, Bahen p2210a and p2210b in BA2210 3rd Floor, Bahen p3185a in BA3185 Gerstein Lab gerstein in room 2360, the Gerstein lab
If a printer is malfunctioning — for example, if it is jammed or has run out of paper — do not try to fix it yourself. Instead, email to admin@cdf or go to the CDF administrators offices in BA3224. If printing service is disrupted outside working hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays), nothing can be done until the next working day.
CDF provides an Internet connection allowing communication among students and instructors:
electronic mail, on-line news, and the World Wide Web. There are some limitations on what
you can do; certainly, for example, you must not tamper with CDF or any other system,
and you must follow the rules in the University’s policy on
Appropriate Use of Information Technology
- ut.cdf.announce, where you will see departmental announcements, scholarship notices, etc.
- ut.cdf.general, for discussion, mostly among students, about events or issues.
The default mail user for First year is Thunderbird. You will find an icon on your desktop.
Your e-mail address
A sender outside CDF will need to know your e-mail address before sending you a message.
If your account name is "c5clarke", then your full e-mail address is
As part of the first lab exercise you do in CSC108, you will learn to forward mail to where
you regularly read your mail. Of course, you can choose to read mail on the CDF system, but it
is essential that you do read your mail, as your instructors use this medium to communicate with you.
If you want to change or create your .forward file later in the year, read How do I forward e-mail?
Occasionally your instructor may send you a file by e-mail. When you receive the message, you have to get its contents into an ordinary file, rather than one of the mailboxes that mail manages. To do so, use the "Save As …" command in mail’s File menu. Make sure to pick a sensible folder to leave the message in, or you’ll never find it again.
Many people are a little careless in using e-mail. If you find yourself becoming angry or confused, it’s better to contact the other person directly or by telephone to clarify the situation.
Do not use e-mail for very confidential messages. It may seem like real postal mail, but it does not carry the same presumption of privacy. Your mail consists of files stored on computers and disks owned by the university, and it can be read by authorized University employees. Ordinarily we won’t read your mail; we’d rather not intrude if we don’t have to. But if there is reason to suspect you or your friends of an academic offence or misuse of CDF, then we may very well read your mail, and you won’t be warned beforehand.
You have access to the the web, and the browser supplied at CDF is Firefox.
"News" is another way of making information public. The news consists of "items" or articles arranged into "newsgroups" according to some unifying topic. For example, many of the CDF courses have their own newsgroup or bulletin board.
News items are less personal and more public than e-mail messages, and can be more up-to-date than web pages, so they have a separate role to play. They are useful in making announcements to a wide audience, such as an entire class, or even all users of the system. Because readers can also respond by posting their own news items, the news can support debates that are often a useful adjunct to classroom discussions. The first-year courses generally use a bulletin board for news, and you will be given the information about where to find your bulletin borad by your instructor.
You can read news using Thunderbird, or you can connect from a browser at home. Please go to FAQ about News to find out more.
You can choose to subscribe or unsubscribe to newsgroups. Make sure you subscribe to at least these groups:
We recommend not posting news items until you have read news for a while. It’s too easy to embarrass yourself! And if you post code that you’ve written for an assignment, you can also get into trouble.
But when you’re ready, you can post an article from your browser, or by e-mailing it to the appropriate newsgroup, giving an address followed by "@cdf". For example, to post to ut.cdf.general, send mail to
The content of the mail message becomes the content of the news item.
To prepare programs for your courses, you do not have to be on-site. If you have a computer at home, you may be able to use it to supplement or replace CDF, or to login to the server from home.
An Internet account will also allow you to exchange e-mail with your instructor or other CDF users.
You can also do your Java programming on your home computer. If you have a powerful enough PC or Macintosh, you will be able to run the java IDE, and DrJava, the programming environment provided at CDF; these are free. The links to the software will be provided on the appropriate course web site.
Refer to CDF Working From Home for many useful items.
You can use the following to trasfer files between your home computer and your CDF home directory:
- USB key.
- File tranfer. Please read SSH to find out more.
Remember that you are able to submit assignments from anywhere by connecting the the CDF Secure Website.
Please let the CDF Technical staff know about errors, or items you would like to see incorporated.
CDF Systems Administrators