12 Essential Linux Commands for Newbies

Basic Commands for Interacting with Files

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  • 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.
  • 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 exits.
  • Copy a file with cp
    • The cp command allows you 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 the previous version.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Delete a directory with rmdir 
  • List the content of a file with more
  • Locate files you are looking for with find
  • Learn more about a command with man
  • 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.