New CSAIT Students

Get Ahead and Prepare for First Semester 

Welcome to Mohawk College. Before you begin first semester in the Computer Science and Information Technology department you can familiarize yourself with the software tools you will be using when school starts. This is not a requirement. We provide this information for those who wish to explore and experiment on their own before classes start.

College classroom PC configuration


If you are shopping for a new PC, you may find the below helpful.

  1. General Purpose Classroom PC
    1. Windows 10.
    2. 16 GB of RAM.
    3. The chipset should support virtualization. If it is an Intel product it will say VT-x in the specs.
    4. We use Apps Anywhere in College PC labs to run many software titles.

Install Notepad++ editor

  1. This editor is used in first semester CO710 HTML & CSS. We require direct editing raw html tags and css rules in a plain text editor like Notepad++ over any of the more sophisticated web page development tools you may be aware of.
  2. Download Notepad++ and install. The first option in the download list of links will use the Microsoft installer to manage the installation for you.
  3. When you run Notepad++ you can customize many features via the toolbar Settings - Preferences. For example, click on Editing and select Display Line Numbers to turn that feature on if it is not on already. 
    Notepad++ Settings
  4. Font family, colours and sizes are defined under Settings - Style Configurator. If you want these settings to apply to all documents you create be sure to select the Enable Global font and Enable Global font size check boxes.

    Notepad++ Style

    Experiment a bit with these settings to see what suits you.

Install Chrome browser

  1. Download Chrome browser and install.
  2. When you are developing web pages it is a good idea to test in more than one browser. You should have an up to date copy of all the popular browsers on your PC. You will use this in CO710 HTML & CSS in first semester.

Install Firefox browser

  1. Download Firefox browser and install.
  2. This browser will be used in CO710 HTML & CSS in first semester.

HTML & CSS tutorials

  1. Now that you have Notepad++ and at least two browsers on your PC you are ready to create some web pages and explore HTML and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).
  2. The tutorials at are an excellent example of the topics we will be investigating in CO710 HTML & CSS in first semester. This website offers Certifications which cost money, you are not required to do any Certifications here. You can study for free.
  3. On the left side of the page click Learn HTML.
  4. We are only concerned with HTML 5 and CSS 3. A general rule to remember: make sure you are reading the version of documentation that applies to the technology you are working with.
  5. The first block of tutorials listed down the left side of this page under HTML Home are all valid except for IFrames and JavaScript. Those topics are not included in CO710.
  6. Don't feel pressured to do all those tutorials, just do a few. That list represents most of the course CO710. It is better to just do a few tutorials and really experiment with the code than trying to plow though too much content too quickly. Take your time. Be sure to use the 'Try it yourself' links on that website.
  7. To help you get started here is a skeleton webpage you can use as a starting point for any web page you create in the future. skeleton.html Open this file, right click with mouse and select 'view page source'. Pressing CTRL+a on your keyboard will select all the text. Pressing CTRL+c on your keyboard will copy all the selected text to the Windows clipboard. Open Notepad++, make sure the focus is set in a new document and press CRTL+v to paste that text into your editor. Save this file and name it skeleton.html.
  8. Edit skeleton.html in Notepad++. In the comment section at the top of the file insert your name and student number. Save this file and close it.
  9. At the Operating System level (Windows Explorer) copy this file to another file named tutorialOne.html.
  10. View this local html file in a browser. There are several ways to do this. For example in Notepad++ you can select Run from the menu and hit Launch in Chrome. You could also double click on the filename in Windows Explorer and the default browser for your Operating System would open the file.
  11. It is also worth looking at the CSS Tutorials. All the tutorials are relevant to our course but it is not necessary to try and do all of them. Experiment with a few and just try to get a handle on what you are getting into.
  12. This is a very large topic and it will take a lot of time to become an expert. Creating web pages is visually pleasing work and can be a lot of fun.

Programming Fundamentals

  1. You will be learning the Python programming language in first semester.
  2. Try the Beginner Tutorials at the website above. Experiment and have fun with the code.

Introduction to Networking

  1. Solid State (SSD) Storage Device Requirement - Personal Portable Storage Device
    1. A portable storage device is required by each student in this course.
    2. The portable storage device must be SSD-based and meet (or exceed) certain minimum technical specifications.
    3. These are the minimum technical specifications required and provides a list of recommended storage device products.
    4. Current recommended storage device: Samsung Portable SSD T7 (500GB) (Not the T7 "Touch" model), Based on current pricing, this SSD-based storage device is your best value for performance, and exceeds the minimum technical requirements for your program.
  2. Minimum Technical Specifications
    1. Storage Technology: SSD (Solid State Drive)
    2. Power: USB-powered (not requiring the use of a 115 VAC outlet)
    3. Storage Capacity: 480 GB - 512 GB, if you manage your data efficiently, this will suffice for all your courses during any single semester
    4. Transfer Protocol: USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps)
    5. Theoretical (Read) Transfer Rate: 500 MB/s
    6. Computer Connection: Must be capable of connecting to the USB Type-A (female) port on a typical computer system. All recommended storage devices listed, come with an appropriate USB Type-C (female) to USB Type-A (female) cable
  3. Recommended Storage Devices - The following storage devices meet (or exceed) the minimum requirements for this course (Theoretical (Read) Transfer Rate Range: 500 MB/s - 560 MB/s)
    1. Samsung Portable SSD T5
    2. HP Portable SSD P600
    3. SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD
    4. Lexar SL100 Portable SSD
    5. WD My Passport SSD
    6. Seagate Fast SSD
    7. LaCie Portable SSD
    8. HyperX Savage EXO Portable SSD
    9. G-Technology G-Drive Mobile SSD
  4. Recommended Storage Devices - The following storage devices meet (or exceed) the minimum requirements for this course (and your program), but will cost a bit more due to their increased data transfer capability (Theoretical (Read) Transfer Rate Range: 850 MB/s - 1050 MB/s)
    1. Samsung Portable SSD T7
    2. Samsung Portable SSD T7 Touch
    3. Lexar Professional SL100 Pro Portable SSD
    4. PNY Pro Elite Portable SSD
    5. SanDisk Extreme 900 Portable SSD
    6. SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD
    7. Crucial X8 Portable SSD
  5. Storage Devices - DO NOT purchase storage devices from the following manufacturers, as they are known to have performance and/or technical issues
    1. ADATA
    2. RAOYI

Install Oracle VirtualBox

  1. Download VirtualBox from Oracle and install it. Use version 6.0.10 to match what we are using in first semester this year. There are newer versions available but you should try to install the same version of software we are using if possible to reduce your headaches.
  2. To download the product click on the link in the line that reads: Windows Host - x86/AMD64.
  3. If you are planning to study in one of our Network diplomas you will use virtual machines often in your courses. Software students less so but this is still important. Companies are relying heavily on virtual machines today.
  4. This technology is quite amazing. Your real computer, which I will assume is a Windows 10 machine we will call the Host. The other operating system we install and run from within VirtualBox we will refer to as the Guest. You are able to run the Host and the Guest at the same time and flip your focus from one to the other and back again. Only one operating system can respond to keyboard and mouse at a time.
  5. First we need another operating system to install. See the next section on installing Linux.

Install Linux CentOS

  1. A computer technologist should be familiar with more than one Operating System. If you are in the Network stream you will spend a lot of time with Linux so you might as well get started. If you are in the Software stream this is less important but still worthwhile. Have fun with it.
  2. Download a CentOS current stable version DVD iso file. Use x84_64 if you have a 64 bit CPU in the Intel family of processors. Look for the filename that ends in *dvd1.iso. This iso file represents a DVD that you will be able use with your virtual machine to run the install. The file you are downloading is 8 GB.
  3. Start the Oracle VirtualBox application. Click on the blue 'New' button.
  4. Use the name CentOS_VersionNumber. The type and version should fill in with Linux and Red Hat (64bit). Hit Next.
  5. The memory you assign to your virtual machine has to come from your real machine so whatever you devote to the VM Guest will essentially slow down the Windows Host. Try 2048 MB and see how it goes.
  6. Create a virtual hard drive now. Hit Create.
  7. Hard drive file type : VDI, hit Next.
  8. Let the file size grow as needed, choose Dynamically Allocated.
  9. 12.0 GB is a good size, hit Create.
  10. Your Oracle VirtualBox application should now look like this:
    Linux Install Step 1
  11. Click on the word Storage in the center panel. You should see a Setting panel that looks like this: 
    Linux Install Step 2
  12. Click on the word Empty under the IDE Controller. This represents your virtual machine's DVD drive.
  13. Tap on the disc icon that looks like a little CD on the right side of the screen. Select the option 'Choose a virtual CD/DVD disk file...'.
  14. This will open an OS level panel to let you navigate to the location of the CentOS DVD you downloaded. Probably in the Downloads directory. Select it.
  15. Notice that the word Empty is gone and your DVD now shows as being inserted into the virtual DVD drive, like this: 
    Linux Install Step 3
  16. Hit Ok. Before you start the install. Click on the Network section of the VirtualBox center panel. That will open the setting dialog. Set your connection type to Bridged Adapter. That will allow the Linux machine to request an IP address from the same service your Windows Host is requesting an IP address, probably your ISP. You should see something like this: 
    Linux Install Step 4
    Hit Ok to close the Settings panel.
  17. Hit the big green Start Arrow to begin. The virtual machine is going to sense the presence of the DVD in the drive bay and run the Linux installer from that location. It cannot boot from the hard drive you created because it is blank right now.
  18. VirtualBox will give you one or two messages about capturing the mouse. It is safe to hit Ok.
  19. The first panel will ask you to test the media. Press the tab key to focus on Skip and hit the enter key.
  20. The mouse can only be recognized by one machine at a time. The Host or the Guest. When you are in the Guest (Linux) press the right CRTL key to change focus back to the Host (Windows). You can get back to Linux by tapping your mouse on the Linux screen.
  21. I am not going to walk through the install. If you made it this far, good for you. Feel free to experiment and explore. Do the install wrong, mess it up and do it again. The best thing about virtual machines is you can wreck them and just start over.
  22. You will have courses that are devoted to teaching you Linux and you will be guided through the install process by your instructor (in the Network stream, not the Software stream). If this feels like too much at this point, do not worry, none of this is required before you start first semester.
  23. If you manage to get the Linux install finished remember to remove the install DVD from the VM drive bay before rebooting to Linux.

First Semester Math

  1. The recommended calculator is a Sharp ELW516XGBSL Write View 422 Function 16 Digit Scientific Calculator.
  2. Your first-semester math classes will begin with a treatment of numbers systems and logical decision making in mathematics. You may find it beneficial to review the basics of numbers systems in the tutorials below
  3. Binary and other number systems (the basics)
  4. Rules for Operating in Binary and practical implications for computer science

If you have general questions about life at Mohawk College explore