Beginners – How to Navigate the Linux Filesystem

Valic —  December 12, 2012 — Leave a comment

The Linux filesystem is a tree-like hierarchy of directories and files. The base of the filesystem is the “/” directory, also known as the “root” . Linux filesystem mounts all disks underneath the / filesystem, not like DOS or Windows filesystems that can have multiple roots. The following table shows you the most common Linux directories:


In this directory we will find essential command binaries like bash, ls, ps, tar, and others.


Here are static files of the boot loader.


In here we can find device files. In Linux hardware devices are accessed just like other files.


Here are system configuration files


This is the location of users personal home directories.


Shared libraries and kernel modules.
/proc Process information pseudo-filesystem.
/root This is the root user home directory.
/sbin Here are essential system binaries like fdisk, fsck, init, and others.


Here are stored temporary files. This like temp directory from Windows.


This is the location for most read-only data like programs, libraries, documentation, and others.


Here are kept user programs like find, du, and more.
/usr/include This is the location where are stored header files for compiling C programs.


Libraries for most binary programs.
/usr/local This directory matters in environments where files are stored on the network. Locally installed files go in /usr/local/bin, /usr/local/lib ans so on. This is used also for software packages installed from source.


Another location for system binaries like lpd, useradd, chroot,  and others.


Here are stored files like icons, backgrounds, documentation, man pages and others.


Program source code.
/usr/X11R6 The X Window System.


This is the place for variable data like mail, log files, lock files, www files and others. Here are stored mostly files that continuously change.


Some commands for navigating the linux filesystem:

The first thing you always want to do when learning about the Linux filesystem is to look around and see what is in there. The next table describes the basic operation of the pwd, cd, and ls commands.


This command shows the current location in the directory tree.


When typed all by itself it returns you to your home directory.

cd “directory”

This command change into the specified directory name. Eg: cd /var/www

cd ~

“~” is an alias for your home directory. This command takes you to your “home” or other directories relative to your home.

cd ..

Move up one directory.

cd -

Return to previous directory.


List all files in the current directory.

ls “directory”

List the files in the specified directory. Eg:ls /var/www

ls -l

List files in “long” format and one file per line. This also shows you additional info about the file like ownership, permissions, date, and size.

ls -a

List all files, including “hidden” files.
ls /bin/a* List all files whose names begin with the letter “a” in the /bin directory.

Fore more try: man pwdman cd, man  ls



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Editor in Chief at Debian-Tutorials, Linux enthusiast.

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