Linux Command-Line Cheat Sheet

While instructions are specific for Ubuntu Linux, most commands will work with other Linux distributions.

This article is reprinted from The Official Ubuntu Book, 2nd Edition, by Benjamin Mako Hill and Jono Bacon, with permission of publisher Prentice Hall Professional, copyright 2007, all rights reserved. While instructions are specific for Ubuntu Linux, most commands will work with other Linux distributions.

Moving Around the Filesystem

Commands for moving around the filesystem include the following.

pwd: The pwd command allows you to know the directory in which you're located (pwd stands for "print working directory"). For example, pwd in the desktop directory will show ~/Desktop. Note that the GNOME terminal also displays this information in the title bar of its window.

cd: The cd command allows you to change directories. When you open a terminal, you will be in your home directory. To move around the filesystem, use cd.

  • To navigate to your desktop directory, use cd ~/Desktop
  • To navigate into the root directory, use cd /
  • To navigate to your home directory, use cd
  • To navigate up one directory level, use cd ..
  • To navigate to the previous directory (or back), use cd -
  • To navigate through multiple levels of directories at once, use cd /var/www, for example, which will take you directly to the /www subdirectory of /var.

Manipulating Files and Folders

You can manipulate files and folders by using the following commands.

cp: The cp command makes a copy of a file for you. For example, cp file foo makes an exact copy of the file whose name you entered and names the copy foo, but the first file will still exist with its original name. After you use mv, the original file no longer exists, but after you use cp, that file stays and a new copy is made.

mv: The mv command moves a file to a different location or renames a file. Examples are as follows: mv file foo renames the original file to foo. mv foo ~/Desktop moves the file foo to your desktop directory but does not rename it. You must specify a new filename to rename a file.

To save on typing, you can substitute ~ in place of the home directory. Note: If you are using mv with sudo, you will not be able to use the ~ shortcut. Instead, you will have to use the full pathnames to your files.

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