Software & Apps Linux List Directory Contents Using the Dir Command List files and folders from within a Linux shell prompt by Gary Newell Writer Gary Newell was a freelance contributor, application developer, and software tester with 20+ years in IT, working on Linux, UNIX, and Windows. our editorial process Gary Newell Updated on November 11, 2019 nicomenijes / Getty Images Linux Switching from Windows Tweet Share Email Although most people who use Linux from a shell prompt traverse the file system using the ls command, Linux also supports a dir command that functions similarly, but with a few key differences. Some distributions do not include dir by default. Get a List of Your Files and Folders Using the Ls Command Similarities Both programs display a listing of files within a directory. Dir is functionally equivalent to the command ls -C -b in which the output lists in columns, sorted vertically, and with backslashed escape sequences to represent special characters. Differences Dir provides output that doesn't vary regardless of whether it displays to a terminal or is piped to a file. Also, given the philosophy of the Gnu Project, dir meets a design-philosophy standard prohibiting the behavior of a command-line program from depending on the type of output device.