Digital humanities

Maintained by: David J. Birnbaum ( [Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 Unported License] Last modified: 2023-02-10T01:58:08+0000

Putting content on line

Getting started

This tutorial describes how to upload content to your websites, which you will need to do for both a few homework assignments and your project.

The first step is to install some variety of SSH/SFTP (secure shell and secure file transfer protocol, respectively) client.

This posting features screencaps for Windows, but the principle is roughly the same on MacOS. Linux users can view the required command lines below. Before proceeding, install the application mentioned above, in this paragraph, that are appropriate for your operating system: PuTTY and WinSCP for Windows and Cyberduck for MacOS.

Changing your password

To change your password you need to connect to Obdurodon with SSH, using PuTTY on Windows and command-line ssh (see below) on MacOS. Before you do anything else, you need to replace the default password that we set up for you when we created your account with a strong password. You only have to do this once; once you’ve changed your password, the system will remember the new one.

About passwords:

Before you do anything else, decide what your new password will be, so that you’ll be ready to type it when prompted.

To connect to Obdurodon on Windows, open PuTTY and begin by entering the host name ( and port number (we’ll tell you this in class) and select Open in PuTTY from the dropdown next to the Login button. You will be taken to the PuTTY terminal. Under login as:, type your userid (which will be the same as your Pitt userid) and hit Enter. Then, type your current password on Obdurodon (not your Pitt password; your initial password on Obdurodon will be the one we set up for you, and after you finish changing it, it will be the new one that you’ve specified) and hit Enter. When you type your password it may look as if nothing is happening; this is a security feature, in case anyone is watching over your shoulder while you type. Typing your userid and password completes the login process, and PuTTY will display a command-line prompt, which looks something like (except that you’ll see your own userid instead of esr42),:

[esr42@steropodon ~]$

At this point Obdurodon is waiting for instructions about what you want it to do. You should now type the command passwd (note the spelling!) and press Enter, which will initiate the process of changing your password. You’ll be prompted to supply your current password (the one you used to launch the connection), so type it (it will look as if nothing is happening) and press Enter. At that point you’ll be prompted to type your new password and then hit Enter, and you’ll be asked to do that twice. Here, too, even though it will look as if nothing is being typed, it's working! Once you’ve entered your new password twice, you’ll be returned to the command prompt. Your new password has now replaced the old one, so the next time you connect to Obdurodon, use the new password.

Changing Password

MacOS users can log into the command-line to change their passwords with the ssh program by typing:

ssh -p port-number -l userid

Replace port-number with the number we tell you in class and replace userid wth your own userid.

Logging in

Once you've installed WinSCP SFTP client (or Cyberduck on MacOS) and asked to start a connection, a login screen consisting of a dialog box will open for you to fill in (see below). Should you close the dialog box for any reason, click New Session, and it will reappear. The file protocol is SFTP. The host name is, and the username is the name on your account on the server. For security reasons we do not publish the port number here (the number below, 22, is the standard one, but we use something different); we’ll tell you the actual port number in class. Finally, fill in your username and password in the appropriate fields. We’ve filled all this in below (with the exception of the port number, as discussed). When you’re done, click the Login button.

Connecting to Obdurodon

Using the client

Navigation in this SSH (secure shell) window (called a shell or command line session) is done using unix shell commands, a list of which you can find on line at You don’t need to memorize all of these commands; you’ll probably need only a few of them for the limited work you’ll be doing here on the command line, and you can come back and look them up again if you forget. The commands we use most are ls, and cd, which list the files in the current directory and change directories, respectively.

Uploading files

We use PuTTY (Windows) and the built-in MacOS ssh command only to work at the command line, and you shouldn’t have to do that very often. You’ll spend more time uploading files, and we use different applications for that: WinSCP for Windows and Cyberduck for MacOS. The interface will look something like the following (this image is from WinSCP):

The left pane is a view of your local files (My Documents and the like), while the right pane is a view of the files on Obdurodon. The right pane will open by default to your home directory folder. You’ll put files for your private web pages (such as homework assignments) in the public_html subdirectory of your home directory; you can double-click on the name to move into it. You’ll put files for your project in a separate project directory, and we’ll show you how to do that later.

The easiest way to transfer content between your local machine and obdurodon is to click and drag a file (or files) across panes to do either action.

The file system and URLs

Files live in directories on the obdurodon file system, but users access them through uniform resource locators (URLs), which are the web addresses we type in the address bars of our browsers. We’ll explain the relationship between file system locations and URLs later, but for now you should know that you should put personal (non-project) files in the public_html subdirectory of your home directory, and that the URL for a file called, say, myFile.xhtml that belongs to user jec115 would be Substitute your own username and your own filenames for your own materials.

There’s one exception to the rule that visitors must know the filename in order to find a file because that name is part of the URL. Your main home page (whether in your personal directory or your project directory) should be called index.xhtml. The reason for this is that when you navigate to your directory and don’t specify any filename, the server knows to look for a file called index.xhtml. That is, a user who goes to will automatically be taken to a file called index.xhtml in the public_html directory of user jec115. If there isn’t an index.xhtml file in that directory, going to will generate an error message, and users will have to know the exact name of a file in order to load it.


When you’re all done, you can exit just close the File Transfer window as you would close any window on your computer, but you should disconnect from obdurodon before closing the SSH window. You can do this via the Session menu by picking Close Session, you can click the button that looks like a computer with a red line through it, or you can hold down the control key, shift key and type the letter d. After that, you can close the window as usual.


Instructions for Linux users

Open the shell by pressing ctrl + alt + T and browse to the directory where you keep your project files or homework (cd directoryLocation). Alternatively, you can install the Nautilus open-terminal package first by typing: sudo apt-get install nautilus-open-terminal (apt-get is for Ubuntu; other Linux distros may use alternative commands). This will allow you to open a terminal wherever you are by right-clicking and selecting Open in Terminal.

To upload files you have to connect through SFTP. To do that, type the following line, replacing XXXXX with the port number you were given in class: sftp -P XXXXX Type your password when prompted to do so.

If you get an error message, the problem might be related to the default port number the client is listening to. To change it type: sudo gedit /etc/ssh/sshd_config and edit that information. Save it and type sudo restart ssh.

Once you have logged in, use the command line to go to the directory you want to upload files to. If you want to upload your homework, go to: cd public_html. If you want to access your project directory, browse instead to: cd /var/www/html/projectKeyword.

Since we opened the SFTP connection after positioning ourselves in the directory where we keep the files we want to upload, we only need to use the command put followed by the name of the file to upload it (remember that the extension is always part of the file name, so, for example, to upload file.xml you need to type put file.xml, and not just file). If the files you want to upload are in a different location, you’ll need to type a path to reach them. If you don’t know how to do that, ask an instructor, or just close the connection, navigate to the correct location on your system, and open a new connection from there.

In addition to the commands we’ve already used (cd to change directories and put to upload files), the most common ones are ls to list the files inside the current directory and rm followed by the file name to remove them. You can find a more complete list of available commands at

To see the files you have uploaded to your personal subdirectory (that is, the homework you uploaded to your public_html subdirectory) in a browser, visit the URL:

Some actions, such as changing the permissions of a file or removing directories, must be done through SSH instead of SFTP. The command line you need to initiate an SSH connection is: ssh -p XXXXX Notice that in SFTP we need to use an upper-case P to specify the port and in SSH we need to use a lower-case one.

To disconnect at the end of your session, type ctrl + D.