Technical Reports

Information on department technical reports including how to access and add them

Reviewed 5/8/14 by Bil Hays

The department maintains a set of technical reports that are accessible online. The reports are assigned numbers of the form TRyynnn, where yy is the year the report was assigned a number, and nnn is a unique three-digit number. We have a program that allows certain administrative and technical staff to assign technical report numbers and add technical reports to our system. Below is information on accessing technical reports, information for researchers who want to get a report listed, a note on reprints, and information for staff members putting reports into the system.

Accessing Technical Reports

Our technical reports are available at The form will allow you to search by year or view the entire list of reports. Practically all are pdf format (readable with Adobe Acrobat Reader), though some older ones are in ps format (postscript, readable with Ghostview).

Adding Your Report to the List (for Researchers)

The first step is to obtain a technical report number. Send mail to or, and provide the tentative name of the report and the email addresses of the authors. Often authors need this number before they are actually ready to submit the report. Once you are ready to have the report listed on our system, save the file in pdf format, including Title and full names of the authors, and send mail to or Provide the report number, and either email the pdf or save the file in a place where we can access it and send the location of the file.

A Note on Reprints

Requests from people outside of the UNC Computer Science Department should be directed to We will point them to the appropriate web resources. The department only provides electronic copies of technical reports, which are available at Anyone who wants a hard copy of a technical report should download from the web address above and print it.

Adding a Report to the System (for Staff Members)

This consists of two steps, assigning a number and submitting the report.

Assigning a Technical Report Number

To assign a technical report number, you will need to first obtain the following information about the report: email addresses of authors title (can be changed later) Then you’ll need to run the tech_report program. Log in to a UNIX system using Secure CRT and type the following: tech_report at the command prompt. (This script may only be run by members of the AFS group “techrepadmin”, which includes various staff members. Send any requests to be on the techrepadmin AFS group to ‘help’.) From this point, a menu will appear. To assign a technical report, enter <A> or <a> for assign. The script will then prompt you for the authors. For authors internal to the department, these may be valid login names, or valid email addresses for external authors. The tech_report program will send email to the addresses you give, and if one of these addresses is incorrect, the mail sent to that address will bounce back to person executing this script. The script will prompt you for a tentative title for the technical report. The title is recorded as a tentative title, and is used in the mail message sent to the authors and administrators. This title is NOT final until the report is submitted using the submit portion of tech_report. DO NOT run the assign process multiple times for the SAME technical report. A new number will be assigned and mail messages will automatically be sent to those involved every time this script is run. If you have any problems running /usr/local/bin/tech_report, please send mail to Note: tech_report checks that you have a valid AFS token and quits if you don’t, since it won’t work properly without one. If this happens, you can log out and log back in to get a token.

Submitting a Technical Report

Before you can submit a final copy of a technical report, you must do the following:

  1. Save electronic copy of the technical report in pdf format in a place where you can access it from within UNIX. The best place to put it is in your home directory. You can map your home directory to a folder on your desktop to simplify this process. If you need assistance with this, please send mail to
  2. Get the technical report number from the person who wants to submit the report (or from your records).
  3. Open the report with Adobe Reader so you can get the final name of the report and the list of authors.

Then you’ll need to run the tech_report program again. Log in to a UNIX system using Secure CRT and execute type tech_report at the command prompt. After checking to make sure that the technical report number is valid, the program copies the technical report into a special directory, /afs/unc/common/doc/www/techreports. Do not run the tech_report more than once for submitting an individual technical report. You should run the script once to assign a technical report number and once to submit the report, only.

Unlocking the Technical Report System

Only one person can use the tech_report program at a time. When you start the tech_report program, it checks to see whether someone else is using the program. This is indicated by the presence of a file, indicating who is running the program, when they started, and what computer they are running the program on. The message looks like this:
tech_report database in use by white, starting Feb 23, 9:02 on
If you get this message, try again later. Normally this file is automatically removed when you finish running the program. Occasionally, someone will quit the program in such a way that it stays locked, that is, the lock file is still there. If the lock message (above) shows that someone other than you has the program locked, and it has been that way for a while, you should check with them or send mail to If it shows that you have the program locked, you can unlock it by executing unlock_tech_report After running this you should be able to run tech_report. If you still have problems running tech_report, send mail to