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Learner Reviews & Feedback for The Unix Workbench by Johns Hopkins University

513 ratings
158 reviews

About the Course

Unix forms a foundation that is often very helpful for accomplishing other goals you might have for you and your computer, whether that goal is running a business, writing a book, curing disease, or creating the next great app. The means to these goals are sometimes carried out by writing software. Software can’t be mined out of the ground, nor can software seeds be planted in spring to harvest by autumn. Software isn’t produced in factories on an assembly line. Software is a hand-made, often bespoke good. If a software developer is an artisan, then Unix is their workbench. Unix provides an essential and simple set of tools in a distraction-free environment. Even if you’re not a software developer learning Unix can open you up to new methods of thinking and novel ways to scale your ideas. This course is intended for folks who are new to programming and new to Unix-like operating systems like macOS and Linux distributions like Ubuntu. Most of the technologies discussed in this course will be accessed via a command line interface. Command line interfaces can seem alien at first, so this course attempts to draw parallels between using the command line and actions that you would normally take while using your mouse and keyboard. You’ll also learn how to write little pieces of software in a programming language called Bash, which allows you to connect together the tools we’ll discuss. My hope is that by the end of this course you be able to use different Unix tools as if they’re interconnecting Lego bricks....

Top reviews


Jan 29, 2018

A wonderful course! Answered so many questions I had and gave me a solid background in Git, Bash, makefiles, and working from the cloud. I will definitely be using these skills in my job search!


Sep 11, 2017

It is suitable for Unix/Linux beginners who are new to shell. It introduces popular code sharing and merging tool GitHub, which most programmers would find very useful in software development.

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1 - 25 of 161 Reviews for The Unix Workbench

By Daniel H

Feb 04, 2019

Generally mediocre introduction to a few bits and pieces of unix. Useful, but has some misconceptions (e.g., what a regular expression is) and will teach you some unsafe habits (e.g., using $* instead of $@ to expand to the positional parameters starting from 1). It would be nice if there was some discussion about what shell scripts were actually used for out in the world. The cloud computing section seems tacked on and wholly unhelpful. Don't make your students give their credit card numbers to some external business unless you're going to do something of at least some lasting value. Even then, you probably should find another way to do this. Set something up on a coursera or JHU server if all you're going to do is literally have them copy and paste (and not learn) 6 lines of code.

By Peter B

Nov 25, 2018

Lazy, Sloppy, Unfocused

Lets see

-Video content is minimal. This is not really a video course. I've never experienced this on Coursera before, the 4 videos that do exist aren't useful in any way.

-The is some introductory, and unnecessary, introduction to both cloud computing and ssh / scp commands. I'm not really sure why it's there, when all of the assignments focus on both git and bash. So anything you did learn in these sections (likely nothing) isn't reinforced. It should be bonus material.

-Many things about bash are truly unusual compared to other programming languages like python/r/php/etc. When these differences crop up (such as how bash handles (), {}, [], [[ ]], spaces, AND, ||, functional returns, etc) are still somewhat confusing to me after completing the entire course. So maybe I'm a dummy, but I'm guessing MOST people completing this course will only be slightly better off doing bash programming vs. doing nothing at all.

-Quizzes were often trivially easy. What will a bash command output? Well, I guess you're not *supposed* to just run the command in bash to see the output...

I could go on, but honestly, this is a terrible course. I actually need to use bash at work, having a certificate is nice I guess, but my time may have been better served with trial and error on my actual projects.

By Daniel P

Jun 27, 2019

Great resources, book, plus module, and exercises were challenging but good learning experiences. Thanks!

By Michael J C

Jun 09, 2019

This is a good course, barely adapted from Sean Kross' UNIX workbench book. Much of the course material refers to chapter numbers but is easy enough to follow without the book. I found that some sections did make a few leaps between the written content and the exercises. For the most part this was OK but the exercises for the final section, "Nephology", were well beyond the written content ("now make a Twitter bot"). Also, the course required that we sign up to Digital Oceans (and gave us a credit) prepared for spam and officious disregard for customers.

By Luis A A C

Jun 06, 2019

Tremendously useful course.

By Mohammed A A A M

Jun 04, 2019

Course is easy and straightforward, no excessive effort is needed to complete it.

By Ayush M

May 31, 2019

amazing course

By Darius T

May 30, 2019

Really useful course for learning the basics of Unix

By Ivan S

May 27, 2019

Excellent material!!!! More practical exercises please will do...

By Benjamin B

May 27, 2019

Excellent! Peer review was a great first experience, but very worthwhile to look at other's work after thinking hard about the problem myself. Very well structured - and I now feel confident on cloud computers, bash, and UNIX/GitHub.

By Prakhar T

May 26, 2019

The course was really interactive. It was a fun experience.

Would have been better if you had provided the learning experience in visual form rather readable.

Anyways Kudos!

By Rodolfo S

May 21, 2019

Great content and excellent exercises.

By Vũ Q H

May 20, 2019

I really want to learn Unix and Git for a long time but I was struggled with finding a good resource to learn. Thanks to Coursera and John Hopkins University, this course gives me what i really expect to

By Dhruvak

May 20, 2019

Material was great. However, last assignment instructions were not clear.

By Tomislav P

May 16, 2019

Very well done course. One of the best ones I did.

By Brandon G

May 15, 2019

Nice overview of the important UNIX (Shell) programming fundamentals.

By Sunil S

Apr 24, 2019

Overall, the course was well structured and easy to understand. The mentors reply regularly to any questions posted in the discussion forums. A wonderful learning experience that introduces you to the command-line interface.

By justina

Apr 13, 2019

Great introduction to the shell world to start swimming on your own!

By Enpei L

Apr 11, 2019

I chose to take this course as reading manuals is boring. The course is nice in the sense that it gives practicals that you can do and get yourself familiar with the commands. On the other side, the videos are not what I expected and not so useful to have anyways.

By Nimit S

Apr 07, 2019

Best course for basic unix knowledge

By Rohit J

Apr 02, 2019

good add more content

By Adam E

Mar 31, 2019

I've been searching for good introductory courses into Unix for over a year now - and finally, I found something with the right amount of challenge and pace that could be achieved within a month's time. Thank you to Sean Kross and the team that developed this course! I'll be paying attention to this space and I now feel I have a better foundational understanding of the ethos behind Unix workflows...

By Franco F P

Mar 26, 2019

Well presented short course easy read content

By Anthony A

Mar 25, 2019

You need videos, not enough and all reading here, although it was the easiest course I've even started and completed. Took less than 1 day to complete and pass.

By Dinesh K P

Mar 24, 2019

Very nice course for linux beginner.