HPC staffer’s tutorial offers 13 years’ worth of tips on the popular operating system

The OLCF’s Ketan Maheshwari developed a tutorial on Linux productivity tools that provides Linux users with practical application techniques for the operating system. Image Credit: Jason Richards, ORNL

The Linux operating system is used to run processes both on the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility’s (OLCF’s) Summit—the world’s most powerful and smartest supercomputer—and on other systems such as desktop workstations. An open-source platform, Linux is universally available and customizable for a user’s needs. There are dozens of books dedicated to understanding Linux, but nothing beats a user perspective—especially one at a leadership-class computing facility such as the OLCF.

So in the same spirit as the operating system itself, Linux systems engineer Ketan Maheshwari at the OLCF has created an open-source tutorial for Linux productivity tools that provides Linux users with relevant examples and practical application techniques for the operating system. Maheshwari created the tutorial in 2017, but it recently gained traction online after Maheshwari posted it to a popular forum in late May. The presentation covers an expansive list of topics ranging from managing terminal sessions to processing large pieces of text to utilizing parallel processing tools, giving users step-by-step guides for a number of situations in Linux.

“Its table of contents doesn’t do it justice. This is a great deck!” one online user said, of the presentation. “[It’s] super dense and straightforward.” Another user said, “I’ll be bookmarking this as a great resource to pass along.”

Maheshwari has worked with Linux for the past 13 years, over which period he’s acquired a plethora of tips and tricks from books, articles, and videos, along with knowledge from his own experimentation on the platform. He developed the tutorial in 2017 for users at the OLCF, a US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility located at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Maheshwari then delivered it at the East Tennessee Chapter of the League of Professional System Administrators and the Large Installation System Administration 2019, or LISA19, conference.

“The tutorial is packed with practical examples to give users insight into the best situations where certain tools can be used,” Maheshwari said. “I wanted to make this as rich as possible but at the same time less verbose and more accessible.”

Now, the tutorial lives online and can be accessed indefinitely by users in high-performance computing, software development, and startups, among other spheres. Maheshwari hopes the tutorial will benefit Linux users of all backgrounds, providing them invaluable shortcuts and easing their day-to-day operations.

“I am grateful for the community from where I’ve gotten these tools over the years,” Maheshwari said. “This has been my way of giving back.”


Maheshwari is maintaining and updating the tutorial on GitHub based on community feedback: https://github.com/ketancmaheshwari/lisa19

UT Battelle LLC manages ORNL for DOE’s Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit https://energy.gov/science.