Common Commands

Ubuntu documentation

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There are many commands available in Ubuntu/Linux. Too many to master all at once or quickly, but there are some that get used a whole lot more than the rest. Here are some of the most common.

Common Commands

  • View Directories - ls: The ls (LiSt) lists files in different colors with fully formatted text.
  • Create Directories: - mkdir (directory name): The mkdir (MaKeDIRectory) command will create a directory.
  • Change Directories - cd (/directory/location): The cd (ChangeDirectory) command will change from your current directory to any directory you specify.
  • Copy Files/Directories - cp (file or directory name) (to directory or filename): The cp (CoPy) command will copy any files you specify. The cp -r command will copy any directories you specify.
  • Remove Files/Directories - rm (file or directory name): The rm (ReMove) command will delete any file name you specify. The rm -rf command will remove any directory you specify.
  • Rename Files/Directories - mv (file or directory name): The mv (MoVe) command will rename/move any file or directory you specify.
  • Find Files/Directories - locate (file or directory name): The locate command will search your computer for any filename you specify. It uses an index of the files on your system to work quickly: to update this index run the command updatedb. This command is run automatically each day if you leave your computer on. It needs to be run with administrative privileges.


You can also use wildcards to match one or more files, such as "*" (for all files) or "?" (to match one character).

For a more thorough introduction to the Linux command line, please read the command line introduction on the Ubuntu wiki.