Linux Basic Commands

It is my hope that these beginner Linux commands will provide you with a good start to your Linux command line adventures.

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All of these beginner Linux commands should work from your command prompt (regardless which shell you’re using). Just in case some folks were not aware, you MUST press enter to invoke the command, and I try to cover the Linux commands I use most often such as cd, pwd, finger and man.TIP 2:
For this summary, please note that the EX: stands for example and is not part of the command. Commands are denoted in courier type font.

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If you need help understanding what the options are, or how to use a command, try adding this to the end of your command: –help

For example, for better understanding of the df command’s options, type:
df –help

So, you have installed your favorite linux distro and you are sitting in front of it. Probably you must have heard a lot of frightening things about its console. Here you will see some basic linux commands which will help you to get familiar with linux command line. So let’s continue with the linux commands cheatsheet.

But first a few words about a very basic command called man. man comes from manual and it works like this man command_name. With this command you can view information on how to use any command of your system. There is even a man page for man! Try typing man man and you ll get the point. So if want further information and details on a command listed below just type man command_name

Viewing, copying, moving and deleting files

ls Display the contents of the current directory
ls -a Display also hidden files and hidden directories
cp filename /path/dir_name Copy filename into directory /path/dir_name
cp -r dir_name /path/dir_name2 Copy the entire dir_name into /path/dir_name2
cp filename1 filename2 /path/dir_name Copy filename1 and filename2 into /path/dir_name
rm name Remove a file or directory called name
rm -r name Remove an entire directory as well as its included files and subdirectories
mv filename /path/dir_name Move filename into /path/dir_name
mv filename1 filename2 Rename filename1 to filename2
cat filename Display filenames contents
more filename Display filename in pages. Use spacebar to view next page
head filename Display filenames first 10 lines
head -15 filename Display filenames first 15 lines
tail filename Display filenames last 10 lines
tail -15 filename Display filenames last 15 lines
pwd Display current directory
cd /path/dir_name Change to directory /path/dir_name
cd .. Go 1 directory up
mkdir dir_name Create directory dir_name
rmdir dir_name Delete directory dir_name

Finding files and text within files

updatedb Update (create first time used) a database of all files under the root directory /
locate filename Find file filename searching in the database
find / -name filename Starting from the root directory search for the file called filename
find / -name *filename Same as above but search for file containing the string filename
grep string /path/dir_name Starting from /path/dir_name search for all files containing string
which application_name Search $path for application app_name
whereis application_name Search $path, man pages and source files for application_name

Archived files


tar -xzf filename.tgz Decompress tzg file
tar -xzf filename.tar.gz Decompress tar.gz file
tar -xjf filename.tar.bz2 Decompress tar.bz2 file


tar -czf filename.tar /path/dir_name Compress directory /path/dir_name to filename.tar
gzip -c filename > filename.gz Compress /path/dir_name to filename.tar.gz
bzip2 -c filename > filename.bz2 Compress /path/dir_name to filename.tar.bz2

Using rpm files

rpm -hiv package.rpm Install rpm called package.rpm
rpm -hiv –force package.rpm Install rpm called package.rpm by force
rpm -hUv package.rpm Upgrade rpm called package.rpm
rpm -e package.rpm Delete rpm called package.rpm
rpm -qpil package.rpm List files in not-installed rpm called package.rpm
rpm -ql package.rpm List files in installed rpm called package.rpm
rpm -q str List installed rpms containing the string str
rpm -qf /path/application_name Display the rpm that contains application application_name

Starting and Stoping

startx Start the X system
shutdown -h now Shutdown the system now and do not reboot
Same as above
shutdown -r now Reboot
reboot Same as above
shutdown -r +10 Reboot in 10 minutes

Mounting filesystems

mount -t vfat /dev/sd(a)(1) /mnt/c_drive Mount the first partition 1 of the first hard disk drive a which is in fat32 vfat dormat under /mnt/c_drive directory
mount -t iso9660 /dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom Mount cdrom under /mnt/cdrom directory
umount /mnt/hda1 Unmout the above

User administration

users Display users currently logged in
adduser username Create a new user called username
passwd username Define password for user called username
who List logged-in users
whoami Display current user
finger username Displays info about user username
su Log in as root from current login
su – Log in as root from current login and take root’s path
exit Exit from console login (ie, logout).


command Execute command in the foreground
command & Execute command in the background
ctrl+z Suspend a program
ctrl+c Interrupt a program
ps List all processes
kill -9 pid Kill process with id pid
top Monitor processes in real time


hostname List the system’s hostname
ifconfig Set/Display network information
host ip Resolves ip’s hostname
ping ip/hostname Check if ip/hostname is reachable
traceroute ip/hostname Find network path to ip/hostname

 System Information

uname -a General system information
fdisk -l List partition tables
cp filename /path/dir_name Copy filename into directory /path/dir_name
df -T -h List filesystem disk space usage
lspci List PCI devices
lsusb List USB devices
free -m Display RAM+Swap usage

 Program Compile

gcc -o output file.c Compile a C program
./output Run a C program you have compiled
g++ -o output file.cpp Compile a C++ program
./output Run a C++ program you have compiled
./configure && make && su -c ‘make install’ Configure, compile and install a program with Makefile

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