SIPB and <i> /mit/sipb</i>: who? what? when? where? why? how?

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An Inessential Guide to Athena

Fifth Edition

SIPB and /mit/sipb: who? what? when? where? why? how?

SIPB (pronounced ``Sip-bee'', sometimes referred to as B) is the Student Information Processing Board, the student group concerned with computing at MIT. We administer several machines and an AFS cell, provide Usenet access to Athena, are available for telephone (253-7788) or in-person (W20-557) consulting at almost any time of day or night, have one-of-a-kind meetings Monday evenings at 7:30 pm, write documentation (like this guide), hack, and generally have a good time. We also act as an advocate for student computer users and student computer access on campus.

SIPB maintains a locker, /mit/sipb. There is a README file in /mit/sipb/README which describes the layout of the filesystem. To access the programs and files on it, you type add sipb. This locker is the place where SIPB-written or modified programs and documentation can be found. The source code for most of the programs in /mit/sipb can be found in the /mit/sipb/src subdirectory. We hope that people will find the programs useful and the source code instructive.

The add sipb command will put the SIPB versions of some commands after the Athena versions. You will need to use a more complicated method of changing your default path if you wish to use the SIPB programs instead of the Athena versions. Put the following line in your .path file:

set path($HOME/$bindir /mit/sipb/$bindir $athena_path .)

If you want to get SIPB manual pages instead of the standard Athena versions, put this line in your .environment file:

setenv MANPATH /mit/sipb/man:$MANPATH

We recomend that you do this, since we believe the SIPB version to be more useful in cases where there is a conflict between the SIPB and Athena versions of programs or manual pages.

Since Athena provides DEC DECstation, DEC VAXstation, SUN SPARCClassic, and IBM RS/6000 workstations for public use, most SIPB programs are compiled for use on all these platforms. In addition, some SIPB programs are compiled for the Sun4 and NeXT machines, and machines running Linux.

Another locker which SIPB offers is /mit/outland. It is not supported, and while it contains many nifty programs, you should not depend on any of them, as they will not necessarily be either available or completely debugged. We encourage you to look at it despite this, as it contains many neat programs that SIPB doesn't have the resources to officially support.

There are many other addable lockers with interesting and useful programs on them; it is not possible to catalog all of them here. We can only suggest you ask your friends who might know where the interesting ``hacks'' are stored, or ask us if you have specific questions. However, there is a short list of some useful lockers presented later in this document.

Problems or questions with sipb programs should be sent to, except for problems with Usenet news programs, which should be sent to