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Opening up your RIT Computer Account for Web Access

What is a personal home page?

A personal home page is a formatted document displayed by a web browser program on the World Wide Web. Any document that is viewed on the web is called a web page. A personal home page is a web page that serves as the beginning or focal point of your personal web site.

Web pages often contain headings, body text, item lists, images and other media, and links to other pages. A page on the web is not necessarily the same amount of text or graphics that would fit on a printed page.

A web browser displays a web page by interpreting the instructions found in the web page's corresponding computer file. The instructions in the file are often written in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). HTML defines the structure and layout of a web document by using a variety of tags and attributes.

How do I get help with my personal home page?

Visit the RIT Web Developer's Page at to learn more about how to develop a web site. For general computer help, including help on creating a personal home page, contact the ITS Service Desk.

How do I create a personal home page?

Use your RIT account. In order to store a web page, you need access to RIT's Digital UNIX OSFcluster (usually referred to as "OSF" or "Grace"). An RIT Computer account gives you access to the Digital UNIX OSFcluster along with many other computer services at RIT. For information on how to get started using Digital UNIX, see Digital UNIX overview.

Create an area for your personal home page. A Digital UNIX account is organized with directories and files. Directories are areas or folders that store files and other directories. A file is an individual document. When you log into Grace, you are in your account's home directory. Your home directory is your accountÕs top-level directory.

Web page files, such as the file for your home page, should be stored in your www directory or a sub-directory of your www directory. If the files are stored in your www directory, you can make them accessible to users on the World Wide Web. To make a directory named "www", type (in lowercase letters):

  • % mkdir www

You only need to make the www directory once. To move to the www directory, type:

  • % cd www

This moves you from your home directory into your new www directory. Your www directory is inside your home directory. If your directory has at least one file in it, you can list the contents of the directory by entering the following command:

  • % ls

Create an HTML file. By using a text-editing program you can create an HTML file that defines the structure and layout of your personal home page. You can create and edit an HTML file from inside your Digital UNIX account by using the pico text-editing program. Or you can use one of several text-editing programs on your personal computer such as Microsoft Word, or Notepad to create and edit the file. If you create the file on your personal computer, you must then upload the file to your Digital UNIX account.

  • Note: The structure and use of HTML is beyond the scope of this document; refer to the "How do I get help with a Personal home page?" section in this document for additional resources.
  • Note: UNIX is case sensitive so it is best to use all lowercase letters when creating file names.

Name your personal home page file "index.html" or "index.htm" so it will be designated as the default index file for your www directory. A web browser automatically displays the web page specified by the index file for web addresses that do not contain the name of a particular file. If someone enters the address of your home page's www directory into their web browser, but does not specify a file to view, the RIT web server uses the instructions from your index file to display your home page.

Each new directory you make inside your www directory can have its own index file. If someone enters the address of a www directory that does not have an index file, the web server displays a list of the contents of the directory.

  • Example: Both of the following URL's (web addresses) point a browser to the same "index.html," file in the www directory of user "abc1234". If there were no "index.html" file in the directory, the first URL would list the contents of the directory, but the second URL would produce an error message indicating that the document could not be found on the server.

Move your HTML file to the correct directory. Use one of the following methods if you need to move your HTML file to the proper directory:

  • If you created the index file for your personal home page in the home directory of your Digital UNIX account, you must move it to your www directory. To do this, make sure you are in your home directory and then type the following command:
    • % mv index.html www/
  • If you created the index file for your personal home page on a personal computer, you can upload it directly into your www directory in your Digital UNIX account. If you are connected to the Internet, you can use a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) program such as "WS-FTP" for Windows computers or "Fetch" for Macintosh computers. For information on how to use these programs, consult the "Fetch" and "WS-FTP" documents ITS Service Desk Documents Web page at

If you use a Windows computer, you also have the option of using SAMBA to upload and download files between your personal computer and your Digital UNIX account. For more information, consult the document entitled SAMBA File Services for Windows at

Set the file protection on your HTML file. File protections control what you and other people can see and do with files in your account. Normally, other people cannot access files in your Digital UNIX account because the file protections prevent them from doing so. To allow files in your www directory to be seen over the Internet, you must change the file protections. An easy way to do this is with the "ofw" (open for web) script. This script automatically sets the correct protections for any files contained in your www directory.

Once the index file for your home page is in your www directory, log into your Digital UNIX account and type the following command to run the ofw script:

  • % ofw

If this does not work, you may need to use the full pathname to find and run the script. To do this, type:

  • % /usr/local/bin/ofw

Now your personal home page is ready for the world. The URL for the RIT account abc1234 home page is:

Substitute your RIT username in place of abc1234 to access your web page. The ~ is required.

  • Note: Every time you add, modify or remove one or more files, you should run the ofw script again. This ensures that the protections on the files in your www directory are set to allow others to view them on the World Wide Web.

Disconnect from Grace. You are done! Consult the Digital UNIX overview document to learn how to disconnect.