12 Essential Linux Commands for Newbies

Basic Commands for Interacting with Files

Plush Linux Penguins

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Command codes aren't essential for using a computer, but if you want to vastly improve your efficiency when using Linux knowing a few common codes will make your life much easier and productive.

Essential Linux Commands

Display a list of files with ls

  • The ls command displays the names of the files and directories in the current working directory. A number of options are available that allow you to specify what details about the files should be shown.
Linux ls command

Change directory with cd

  • If you want to change the current working directory you would use the command cd. For example, cd correspondence would set the current working directory to correspondence, if it exists.
Linux cd command

Copy a file with cp

  • The cp command allows you to copy a file and give the copy a new name. It is always a good idea to make a copy of a file before you change it in case you want to go back to the previous version.
Linux cp command

Change a file name with mv

  • The mv command allows you to change the name of a file or move it to another directory or both. Files and whole directories can easily be moved even if they have a lot of content, since it requires only changing how things are linked to each other.
Linux mv command

Create a new directory with mkdir

  • The mkdir command creates a new directory. Directories can be nested and are useful to organize large sets of files.
Linux mkdir command

Delete a directory with rmdir 

Linux rmdir command

List the content of a file with more

Locate files you are looking for with find

Learn more about a command with man

Change a process' priority with nice

Edit the contents of a file with emacs

Change your password with passwd

  • After you type passwd at the command prompt, it will ask you for your current password and the new one.

End your session with exit

  • The exit command will get you out of the current shell or session.