Basics for the command line – for newbies : Ubuntu (5.10 / 6.06.1 / 6.10)

By | 2006/12/17

I’ve had tutorials coming out my ears lately and I realize that many of them are written for use on the command line. For many of you the command line may be intimidating, especially if you’re more accustomed to the Windows standard GUI. I want to tell you the command line can be a VERY powerful tool if you just learn a few basic things. Please don’t consider the command line a crutch or “Linux is hard because you have to type commands”. You can do everything via a GUI that you can do via the command line, it is simply easier or quicker to do it the latter way.

Below are a few basic command for those of you new to the command line:

ls - list contents of a directory
sudo - "super-user do" (grants administrator rights)
cd - change directory
aptitude - APT package management system (update, install, remove, search)
clear - clear screen
chmod - change file access permissions
chown - change file and group ownership
cp - copy
mv - move
rm - remove
cat - concatenate files (dump to screen)
nano - basic text editor
vi - advanced text editor
fdisk - partition table manipulator
df - disk free (remaining / used disk space)
users - users currently logged in
useradd - add a user
usermod - modify existing user
uname - show system data (try uname -a)
mount - mount a file system, cd or removable drive
umount - un-mount a file system, cd or removable drive
top - show current running processes
touch - create new, empty, file
reboot - reboot your system
shutdown - shutdown your system
passwd - change user password
ping - ping a network device or location (ping google.com)
more - show output one screen at a time
exit - logout of the terminal
eject - eject a cdrom or removable device

There are many, many more commands that you can take advantage of. This is just a short list of some of the more commonly used commands. If anyone has suggestions on adding to this list I would appreciate feedback.

Also, if you’re unsure the proper usage of one of these commands simply use the “man” (manual) pages to read more about it. Use the command: man [command] to find out the details on usage and syntax. I hope this helps!

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