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Tue 5 Dec 2023
11:00 - 13:00

Venue: Faculty of English, GR04

Provided by: Cambridge Digital Humanities


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Introduction to the Command Line

Tue 5 Dec 2023


This session introduces the command line, sometimes also known as the shell or the terminal, to humanities researchers. No prior knowledge of the command line or programming of any kind is required or expected from attendees.

A basic understanding of how to use the command line provides a step change in how productive you can be when working with data or text files, particularly large number of files or very large files, which can be hard to manipulate in a graphical interface. Some tools and programs can only be used from the command line, and this session aims to give you the confidence to work with them. In the session we primarily look at seven George Eliot novels and a comparative set of seven Dickens novels (about 3.4 million words in total) but this session should be of use to any humanities researchers working with text collections and the principles have far broader applicability.

We'll focus on running programs which come pre-installed on Mac and Linux, and which can be easily added to Windows. We'll combine these programs in productive ways, discuss how to discover and use the options for each, how to send results to files, and how to work efficiently on the command line so you don't have to retype or remember everything you've done.

Target audience

CDH Basics sessions are open to the University of Cambridge staff and graduate students who want to learn and apply digital methods and use digital tools in their research, these sessions may be of particular interest to:

  • PhD students in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Early Career Researchers in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Other Cambridge students and staff welcome

Number of sessions: 1

# Date Time Venue Trainer
1 Tue 5 Dec 2023   11:00 - 13:00 11:00 - 13:00 Faculty of English, GR04 map J. Blaney
System requirements

You will need to bring your own laptop to this session.

  • If you are on a Mac or Linux you should already have everything you need. A Moodle course with the files we'll work on in the session will be made available to attendees and the files there should be downloaded in advance.
  • If you are on Windows please install Git from here:

The first link, to version 2.42.0, dated 2023-08-30, is the one to use. You can accept all defaults but ensure that the option to allow "Git Bash here", under "Windows Explorer integration" is checked and, when you are offered a choice of terminal, that "MinTTY" remains selected. These are both defaults so should be enabled without you needing to change anything.

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