Computing - yes, the first assignment is easy. My first assignment (due on the Monday of the 2nd week) said this:
"The objectives of this ﬁrst exercise are to gain some familiarity with the Linux operating system, the screen editor nedit [...] you will be working in the Linux programing environment using the nedit editor for much of the ﬁrst year.
Although this exercise is not assessed, you should still submit it."
It's easy if you've done programming before, if not, find a friend in the lab if you have any trouble. It's pretty straightforward.
If you want to prepare in some way, the most useful thing you can do is download and install GNU/Linux on your PC. When they say "You will be working in the Linux programing environment using the nedit editor for much of the ﬁrst year" they really mean "most of the course, unless you're really stubborn and make things awkward for yourself".
Install GNU/Linux and figure out how to do things with the command line, it turns out to be really
useful. If you know basic things like copying/moving files, editing them, and what else you can do and how to find out how to do it (i.e. how to use the command-line manual in Linux) then when you need to do something you can concentrate on the programming problem instead of not being able to fully use your OS.
Things people ask me quite often:
"How do I copy files and stuff?"
cp source destination
mv source destination
reads the manual, which is usually just a page or so of options for a particular command, and examples of how to use it. It's probably the most useful thing to know, if you know what the program you need to use is then it's quicker than Googling for something.
"How do I see where all my disk space is being used?"
du -ms * | sort -n
"Argh! How do I cancel that print job?"
lpq -Pprintername [shows print queue]
lprm -Pprintername jobnumber [from lpq]
lprm -Pprintername username [deletes all your print jobs]
"How do I copy a file from Linux at home to DoC?"
scp filename [email protected]
or a directory
scp -r directory [email protected]
"and the other way round?"
scp -r [email protected]
"How do I edit a file without using a GUI?"
"How can I access a DoC computer remotely from Linux?"
ssh [email protected]
"How do I print a text file from the command line?"
enscript -Pprintername filename
"How do I change my password?"
"How do I print a pdf, 4 pages-to-one, on the command line?"
psnup -4 file.ps > file-4.ps
lpr -Pprintername file-4.ps
"I can't find the file called X!"
find ~ -iname X
find ~ -iname '*X*'
"I can't remember what it's called. But it has the word "linux" in it."
grep -R linux ~
(~ means your home directory)
I could go on, but you get the idea
Maths -- there was a test at some point in the first week, I think I got full marks, or almost full marks. They people that didn't do very well had extra help. I think they also use it to see what you've been taught (as in "damn, yet another thing they must have taken off the A-level syllabus).
Edit: oh... link needed! Computing will be using KUbuntu Linux from next term (so I've heard). It doesn't really matter what you choose, the only difference between KUbuntu, Mandriva, Fedora, Debian, Slackware, Red Hat, SuSE, etc is how you automatically install supported software (which on Linux is loads of stuff since it's often free), what software is supported/available, and the default wallpaper when you first log in.
I usually recommend KUbuntu or Ubuntu anyway though: http://www.kubuntu.com/download.php#latest
(download with Bittorrent if you can, since that verifies the file as it downloads).