What is a computer?

Computers are machines capable of performing any possible calculation you imagine.

It is important to take ownership of these machines, to learn how to control them fully, rather than to simply rely on others, or we are forced to accept the restrictions of the programs currently available.

Thanks to people making their software freely available, it is not necessary to be restricted to commercial offerings, once you have computer the tools are now available to write your own programs, or modify programs to meet your needs. Many commercial companies do this too, and free software has also been incorporated into commercial packages.

What is an operating system?

The operating system is the system that gets between you and the processor.

Full operating systems are available thanks to the free software movement, these include the source code and compilers necessary to make further modifications if needed. Many of these tools are also available on non-free non-open platforms such as Microfoft Windows and Apple OSX.

What is Unix?

Unix is a specification for a multitask, multiuser operating system with standardised interface. The motivation being to allow software to be used on machines made by different manufacturers.

If you are using unix for the first time I wrote a small introduction to using unix command line. Also introductions to Linux and free-open source software. Other people have provided an explaination of Mac OS X.


You can find some programs I wrote and used in my PhD, also a list of the software I used to prepare my thesis.

I also wrote a short tutorial for using gnuplot which is a flexible plotting software for producing all sorts of graphs from data or functions.

I have loaded some examples of the usage of LaTeX typsetting.




Sometimes I add useful sites to a list of computing links.

You can find some desktop wallpapers. I made the 3 linux penguins on a grey background from an image on, Thomas made the Mac desktop background.