Set Up Your Windows PC

Throughout the semester, you should prioritize using the computers (in TCL 217A and TCL 216) to work on your lab assignments. All the utilities you need have already been installed on them, and they have been set up so students do not face any platform-dependent issues.

This document gives you instructions on how to set up your personal Windows computer. If you need help, please reach out to the CSCI 134 staff.


Each person’s computer is different, and while these instructions work for most of them, there will inevitably be some unique issues and quirks that you may experience and learn how to workaround. If you encounter any such issues, please drop us a note. In general, we do not provide individual support for student laptops. However, we will do our best to help you if you run into problems.

Step 0. Verify Windows version

You must have Windows 10 or later installed. If you have an older version, you need to upgrade it (for free). You may wish to apply any updates to Windows before proceeding to ensure you have the latest version.

Step 1. Install the VS Code Text Editor

You need to install VS Code as an editor for your programs. Download it from Installation should be straight forward. If necessary, you can find detailed instructions for installation on the CSCI 136 webpage.

While not necessary for CS 134, if you would like to explore more advanced Python support in VS Code, you can follow these instructions. You should not install any extensions other than the VS Code Python extension published by Microsoft.

Step 2. Install Python

Install Python from the Windows Store by visiting the Python 3.10 for Windows page.

Proceed to install with the default options for any choices you have during installation.

Step 3. Install the Git Source Code Control System

We will use Git to manage your source code for the labs, by downloading and running the Git for Windows Installer.

Installing Git can be straightforward, but the installer will present you with many options you can configure. Simply stick with default options, except for two specific features:

  • When you see the following dialog box to set Git’s default editor, choose “Use Visual Studio Code as Git’s default editor” from the pop-up menu before continuing.

  • When you see the following dailog box to set the terminal emulator for Git Bash, chose “Use Windows’ default console window”:


The installer may open a web page containing “Release Notes” when it finishes. You can close that page.

You can now launch your Terminal program by searching for “Git Bash” in the Windows search bar and opening that program:


You will see a window appear that looks like the following:


Below, we will provide you commands to type into this window to configure our software, run programs, and so on. Whenever you wish to work on labs in this class, your first step will be to launch “Git Bash”, which we refer to as “the Terminal” in most of our documents.

Step 4. Establish your CS credentials

Computer Science runs its own network of servers, with access limited to students with CS “credentials”. These credentials will be sent to you via email (with the Subject Line “Williams Computer Science Account Information”), and you are expected to change your password by following the instructions in that email. Notice that your CS username is slightly different from William’s username. Sharing your CS credentials with others is violation of the Honor Code.

To verify your credentials, type the following into the Terminal at the $ prompt, replacing your-username with your CS username (i.e., the one that starts with your graduation year).

ssh whoami

You may get the following message back:

The authenticity of host '' can't be established.

  ECDSA key fingerprint is ....

  Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no/[fingerprint])?

This is normal whenever you access a machine for the first time. If this happens, type yes, and press return/enter.

You will be asked for your CS password: provide it. Note that for security reasons, you will not see anything you type. After you press Enter, if the server prints out your CS username, then your credentials are working correctly. If you have trouble with establishing access, please email

Step 5. Configure Git and Download Python Packages

Verify Git was successfully installed by typing the following the Terminal window:

git --version 

It should report a version of 2 or later.

Next, you should configure git with your email and username. Execute the following commands in the Terminal, replacing with your Williams email address (i.e., the one without your graduation year) and your-CS-username with your CS user name (i.e., the one with your graduation year in front).

git config --global ''         
git config --global 'your-CS-username'
git config --global push.default simple
git config --global pull.rebase false
git config --global http.sslBackend schannel

At this point, we can also use the pip3 package installer to install Python packages that we will need this semester. Run the following installation commands in the terminal to do that:

pip3 install jupyterlab
pip3 install matplotlib

This may take a minute or two. You may get some warnings – you can ignore them.

Step 6. Setup CS134 Folder

Now are you ready to create your CS134 directory on your computer. Unix directories correspond to folders in your Mac or Windows operating system. You will be creating many files on your computer for this class. We suggest that you put all of your work in a single folder, called cs134, located in your home directory. You can navigate to your home directory from within the Ubuntu terminal as follows:

  • Open the Terminal, and run the command pwd (print working directory). This tells you the path of your current working directory


    As you can see above, by default you will likely be in your home directory under your username. This is a good place to create your new cs134 directory. You can always navigate to your home directory, by typing the following (~ stands for home directory).

    cd ~
  • You can create your cs134 directory using the mkdir cs134 (short for make directory). Now if you use the command ls to list the contents of your current directory, you should see the newly created cs134 folder.

  • We can navigate into the folder with the command cd cs134 (short for change directory). Since this is an empty folder right now, if you type ls, it will not show any contents.

  • Now that you have created your cs134 folder, this is where you should always navigate to before you clone all your lab files.

That’s it! You are now ready to work on your assignments on your personal computer!