Submitted on Friday, 8/19/2016, at 3:31 PM

This page has information for students and others who want to use Macintosh computers to access Unix systems or to do Java programming at Amherst.  Topics addressed below include:

  • Connecting to a Unix server
  • Copying files to and from a Unix server
  • Creating aliases on a Mac
  • Doing Java programming directly on a Mac

Connecting to a Unix server

Two good ways to connect are X11 and Remote Desktop Connection. The former is probably best, because it permits both local and remote windows to appear on the screen together. In RDC, all of the remote windows appear within a special desktop window. RDC has advantages too: easy access to the menus, etc., of the remote desktop, and the ability to temporary disconnect from the remote machine while leaving applications running.

Copying files to and from your Mac

Two ways to copy files are described on the page on transferring files. There's another way too...

Create a terminal window that is connected to the Mac but not to the Unix machine. In other words, don't use SSH in that window. Recall that the Mac is really based on Unix. This means that you can issue "cd" commands within the terminal window to move around your directory structure. Begin by moving to the directory that 1) contains a directory or files that you want to move to the Unix system, or 2) is the place into which you want to move a directory or files.

To copy a whole directory into your current one, use the command

scp -r you@romulus.amherst.edu:dirname .

where dirname is a path name relative to your home directory on romulus, e.g. cs12/lab3. Note the period at the end of the line. Do use it; it means "the current directory". In other words, you're copying from a place on romulus to the current directory on your current machine.

To copy a whole directory the other direction, use

scp -r theDir you@romulus.amherst.edu:dirname

This copies theDir into dirname. Again, dirname should be a (potential long) directory name that is relative to your home directory on the Unix system.

To copy a single file to your Mac, use something like

scp you@romulus.amherst.edu:cs12/lab3/filename .

To go the other way, use

scp filename you@romulus.amherst.edu:cs12/lab3

To copy multiple files to your Mac, use something like

scp 'you@romulus.amherst.edu:cs12/lab3/*.java' .

To go the other way, use

scp *.java you@romulus.amherst.edu:cs12/lab3

Creating shortcuts

It's possible to set up an alias so that you can simply type "romulus" in a terminal window to make an SSH connection to romulus. Here's what's involved.

Determine which "shell" you are using on the Mac

Issue the command

echo $shell

in a terminal window for the Mac. If it says "/bin/tcsh", you can skip the next step.

If necessary, change your shell

Issue the command

chpass -s /bin/tcsh

Edit your .cshrc file

Type the command

emacs ~/.cshrc

Enter the lines

alias romulus ssh -Y you@romulus.amherst.edu
alias remus ssh -Y you@remus.amherst.edu

Then type CTRL-X CTRL-C to save the file. Close your terminal windows and exit the X11 application. Restart the X11 application. You should be able to type "romulus" or "remus" in a Mac terminal window to open a connection to the given machine.

Doing Java programming on the Mac

You can develop Java programs right on the Mac: just type your usual commands in a Mac terminal window but not in an SSH session. You'll need to download the Java Development Kit. (Try a web search for "jdk netbeans", which will lead you to a download that includes the NetBeans IDE. The current JDK, as of this writing, is JDK 8.) You might also want to download a flexible version of emacs, called aquamacs, from aquamacs.org.