Debian Work Environment

Valic —  June 10, 2013 — Leave a comment

You found out in a previous article that Midnight Commander allows you to do almost everything under Debian, but it is very important for you to become familiar with the work environment and to learn how to use the command line tools from the shell prompt. You are able to select your login shell using chsh. The list of shell programs may include: bash, tcsh, dash, zsh, pdksh, csh, sash, ksh, rc or posh. In this article we will use bash as the interactive shell. The bash behaviour can be customized from “~/.bashrc“. Under Debian work environment there are some key strokes, special ones, which have a special meaning, as you can see in the below list:

  • Ctrl-U will erase the line before cursor
  • Ctrl-H is used to erase one character before cursor
  • Ctrl-D will terminate exit shell
  • Ctrl-C used to terminate a running program
  • Ctrl-Z stops the program temporarily
  • Ctrl-S used for halt output to screen
  • Ctrl-Q will reactivate the output to screen

Mouse can be also used, and these operations are made using a 3 button mouse. Button functions are not different that a standard one. Please note that in order to use a mouse on a Linux console you must have gpm(8) as a daemon running. An enhanced pager, less(1), exists on this work environment. If you have not defined yet a default text editor under your Debian operating system, you will have to install one. VIM is recommended by most users. The default editor is located at ‘/usr/bin/editor‘ and can be properly invoked by other applications. Before installing one editor, please check what values you have for environment variables “$VISUAL” or “$EDITOR” and see what editor are you currently using.

If you need a mode to record the activities you make while using the shell prompt, in order not to lose forever what you wrote there or if you need to do a review of them sometime in the future (especially for those of you who are doing administrative tasks), this is the way to do it: type ‘script‘ in command line, make your commands, press ‘Ctrl + D’ to exit the script and then write ‘vim typescript’ which will show you the entire script history.

Now you are at that moment when you will have to learn some basic Debian commands in the editor. Execute the below command while logged in with a non privileged user:

  • pwd is used to display the name of the working directory
  • whoami will display the current username
  • id displays the current user identity
  • file <x> will display a type of file for the file “<x >”
  • ls lists the content of a directory
  • ls -a lists the contents of a directory but including all files and directories
  • mkdir x – make a new directory x
  • rmdir x – removes a directory x
  • top will display the current process information using full screen mode Continue Reading…

You will use these commands to find out and display some informations about your system or about users:

 Linux Command Description


This will show a list with all currently running process (programs). The most often used command is ps -aux


This is showing what users are logged on and what they are doing.


This command prints your user ID and your group ID’s.

Example: for root the output looks like this: uid=0(root) gid=0(root) groups=0(root)


Report filesystem disk space usage. You will use the most the df -h (human readab) command.


This is called estimate file space usage and is used for disk usage for folders. du -s is the command that provides a summary for the current directory.


This command displays Linux tasks. Displays CPU processes in a full-screen GUI and is  a great way to see the activity on your computer in real-time. To quit you need to type Q.


Displays amount of free and used memory in the system.
cat /proc/cpuinfo
Displays information about your CPU.
cat /proc/meminfo
Display lots of information about current memory usage. Like free but with much more details.

uname -a

This command prints system information like kernel version, machine type, hostname, hardware platform, and others. use man uname for more details.