Old Dominion University

Jan 27 - Feb 26, 2020 (see table)


Instructors: John Pratt, Terry Stilwell, Wirawan Purwanto

Helpers: Yuming He

Location Clarification

These workshops take place in Webb Center (Norfolk campus)! Please see the schedule below for each workshop's location. The "VA Beach–Portsmouth" rooms are on the second floor.

Please sign up for the workshop at our Eventbrite page.

ATTENTION Windows Users

Please download & install putty from https://www.putty.org/ .

Direct download link: https://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/latest.html .

Stand-alone executable (no-install option): https://the.earth.li/~sgtatham/putty/latest/w64/putty.exe

General Information

The Research Computing Group at ODU is pleased to offer a series of hands-on workshop this Spring on the topics of UNIX shell, Python programming language, and intro to HPC! These short workshops are targeted to those who are new to research computing.

We are splitting up the topics this semester into smaller, more digestible events. You can attend one or more of the workshops depending on your need, interest, and level of knowledge. No prior computational experience is required. The goal of this workshop series is to present a basic introduction to research computing (with particular emphasis on ODU’s Wahab cluster), job schedulers. UNIX shell is an essential tool to interact with the HPC clusters. Python is a highly popular programming language that has gained popularity among researchers on HPC platforms. We will use a hands-on format to teach fundamental skills for working effectively on HPC clusters. Make sure you bring a laptop.

Here are the details of the five workshops along with some details to help you how to choose the topics suitable to you:

  1. UNIX Shell I: We will introduce the shell and work with files and directories with basic UNIX commands (cp, mv, rm, …). Geared to those who have not used UNIX shell.

  2. UNIX Shell II: We will discuss pipes, filters, loops, shell scripts, and finding things. This workshop assumes basic understanding of UNIX shell. Those who are unfamiliar with the shell are recommended to take “UNIX Shell” I as well.

  3. Python I: We will cover Python fundamentals, processing and visualizing tabular data, loops, and lists. Geared to those who have never used Python.

  4. Python II: We will analyze data from multiple files, create functions, and discuss errors, exceptions, debugging, and command-line programs. Those who are unfamiliar with Python are recommended to take “Python I” as well.

  5. HPC Intro: This workshop is intended to present a basic introduction to HPC (with particular emphasis on ODU’s Wahab cluster). It will provide an overview of the job scheduler and how to use tools available on Wahab. Working knowledge of UNIX shell is assumed.

Who: The course is aimed at students, researchers, and faculty/staff interested in research computing and/or HPC.

Where: Old Dominion University, Webb Center 1526 W 49th St, Norfolk, VA 23508 (see table below for room info). Get directions with OpenStreetMap or Google Maps.

When: Jan 27 - Feb 26, 2020 (see table). Add to your Google Calendar.

Requirements: Participants must bring a laptop with a Mac, Linux, or Windows operating system (not a tablet, Chromebook, etc.) that they have administrative privileges on. They should have a few specific software packages installed (listed below).

Contact: Please email jpratt@odu.edu , tstilwel@odu.edu or wpurwant@odu.edu for more information.

Please visit our documentation site for additional information.


Please be sure to complete these surveys before and after the workshop.

Pre-workshop Survey

Post-workshop Survey


Topic Date Time Location
UNIX 1 2020-01-27 (Mon) 11:30 - 14:30 Webb / VA Beach-Portsmouth (room #2006–2007)
UNIX 2 2020-01-30 (Thu) 11:30 - 14:30 Webb / VA Beach-Portsmouth (room #2006–2007)
Python 1 2020-02-11 (Tue) 11:30 - 14:30 Webb / VA Beach-Portsmouth (room #2006–2007)
Python 2 2020-02-12 (Wed) 11:30 - 14:30 Webb / VA Beach-Portsmouth (room #2006–2007)
Intro to HPC 2020-02-26 (Wed) 11:30 - 14:30 Webb / Potomac-Yorkroom (room #1305-1306)


To participate in the workshop, you will need access to the software described below. In addition, you will need an up-to-date web browser.

We maintain a list of common issues that occur during installation as a reference for instructors that may be useful on the Configuration Problems and Solutions wiki page.

The Bash Shell

Bash is a commonly-used shell that gives you the power to do simple tasks more quickly.


Video Tutorial
  1. Download the Git for Windows installer.
  2. Run the installer and follow the steps below:
    1. Click on "Next" four times (two times if you've previously installed Git). You don't need to change anything in the Information, location, components, and start menu screens.
    2. Select “Use the nano editor by default” and click on “Next”.
    3. Keep "Use Git from the Windows Command Prompt" selected and click on "Next". If you forgot to do this programs that you need for the workshop will not work properly. If this happens rerun the installer and select the appropriate option.
    4. Click on "Next".
    5. Keep "Checkout Windows-style, commit Unix-style line endings" selected and click on "Next".
    6. Select "Use Windows' default console window" and click on "Next".
    7. Click on "Install".
    8. Click on "Finish".
  3. If your "HOME" environment variable is not set (or you don't know what this is):
    1. Open command prompt (Open Start Menu then type cmd and press [Enter])
    2. Type the following line into the command prompt window exactly as shown:

      setx HOME "%USERPROFILE%"

    3. Press [Enter], you should see SUCCESS: Specified value was saved.
    4. Quit command prompt by typing exit then pressing [Enter]

This will provide you with both Git and Bash in the Git Bash program.


The default shell in all versions of macOS is Bash, so no need to install anything. You access Bash from the Terminal (found in /Applications/Utilities). See the Git installation video tutorial for an example on how to open the Terminal. You may want to keep Terminal in your dock for this workshop.


The default shell is usually Bash, but if your machine is set up differently you can run it by opening a terminal and typing bash. There is no need to install anything.

Text Editor

When you're writing code, it's nice to have a text editor that is optimized for writing code, with features like automatic color-coding of key words. The default text editor on macOS and Linux is usually set to Vim, which is not famous for being intuitive. If you accidentally find yourself stuck in it, try typing the escape key, followed by :q! (colon, lower-case 'q', exclamation mark), then hitting Return to return to the shell.


nano is a basic editor and the default that instructors use in the workshop. It is installed along with GitBash for Windows.

Others editors that you can use are Notepad++ or Sublime Text. Be aware that you must add its installation directory to your system path. Please ask your instructor to help you do this.


nano is a basic editor and the default that instructors use in the workshop. See the Git installation video tutorial for an example on how to open nano. It should be pre-installed.

Others editors that you can use are Text Wrangler or Sublime Text.


nano is a basic editor and the default that instructors use in the workshop. It should be pre-installed.

Others editors that you can use are Gedit, Kate or Sublime Text.