Importance of Unix Basics for Software Testers

A question we are frequently asked by our newbie students is why we need to learn Unix. We hope this blog will provide an insight into the question.

As testers first and teachers next, we rely on our practical experience and do our best to teach skills that we have used day in and day out in our testing career.

Unix, Windows and SQL are some of the topics that we have included in the course because of this approach.

Windows is the default machine that most of us use in our day to day lives. Whether we realize it not, we tend to use the following features regularly:

  • Run or Start Programs, Stop programs
  • Create /update/rename/delete files
  • Create/Rename/Move/Delete directories or folders.
  • Move files between folders
  • Browse/Search the Directory where files are stored/ saved
  • Windows Task Manager – for stopping processes that do not respond
  • Browsers to access web pages.
  • Create files through Notepad, MS Office.
  • Install applications eg. Skype.

So, these skills become ingrained in us.

When testing applications, the applications can be installed on Windows or Unix servers. Hence the need for testers to understand Unix basics, at least the basic commands equivalent to whatever we are doing in Windows. Familiarity leads to confidence.

On Windows, the other topics of interest to us testers are:
Windows Services – starting, stopping services, machine IP address and OS version, Environment Variables esp PATH, Java version, Registry Entries, Event Log, Windows Task Manager, dlls eg. svchost, Windows Policy Manager etc.

On Unix, we are interested in how to FTP files, .profile and setting environment variables, basic file commands, vi, find and grep, starting and stopping a process, process id, killing a process, log files, core dumps, process status, net-stat etc.

These basic commands for file manipulation and starting/stopping programs comes in handy during testing.

This is why these are part of regular QA course and we provide our students with a Test Lab to exercise/practice these skills. Practice leads to perfection and confidence.

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