Jan 9, 2019

Basic Linux Commands

Every computing device you own, from your laptop to your smartphone to your tablet, has some sort of operating system. Mac iOS and Windows are the two most common operating systems that people are familiar with, but if you want to get into tech beyond the Intro to Programming level, it helps to become familiar with Linux. Linux is an open-source operating system that most often works with a command-line interface (CLI). This means that instead of clicking a mouse or track pad on a visual representation of what you want to use, you need to type in commands to tell the computer what to do.

Not Usable with All Systems

This means it's important to learn some basic Linux commands if you want to start using this operating system and unlocking the techie potential that lies therein. If you've ever worked in the command line before, and if you've taken even beginner-level code or developer classes like a front-end web developer course, you'll already be familiar with some of the commands that get you where you need to go in a Linux CLI system. Be aware, too, that there are some Linux systems that operate with a graphical user interface (GUI) like you're used to with Windows and MacOS. You probably won't need to use these commands with those systems.

If you find yourself needing to use typed commands to operate a Linux machine, you'll need more than just the basic list below. However, these basic commands are among the most important and can help get you started. Also, in case you aren't familiar with the command line, you should know that what you think of as a folder on your computer is properly known as a directory. So, when we talk about changing directories in the command line, we're talking about navigating to a new folder.

  • PWD:: This stands for "print working directory" rather than "password" in this context. It's a way of finding out where you currently are in the operating system. In the absence of a visual reference, the pwd command tells you where you are in your directory structure.
  • cd: This stands for "change directory" and, as you might guess, it's the command you use to change into a different directory. So, for example, if you want to create a new document in a directory titled "diary," you use "cd diary" to get there. Using the cd command with no directory name brings you back to the home directory.
  • mkdir: If you want to create a new directory, use the mkdir command, which stands for "make directory." You need to add the name of the directory, too, such as "mkdir seconddiary." If you want the directory name to have a space in it, you need to use the backslash: "mkdir second\diary" It's usually best to collapse everything into one word, however, because otherwise you then need to use that backslash every time you enter the directory name into the command line, like "cd second\diary."

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