For an in-depth tutorial, you can navigate to this Linux guide: Learning the Shell.
This tutorial demonstrates the basic Linux commands a user would need to use and run programs on the SCRC Linux computers. The Linux machines use a command line interface called a Shell. The Shell is the interface where you enter Linux commands. There are many types of shells. By default, SCRC Linux machines use the BASH shell. The first thing you see after logging in is the shell’s command prompt. For example, Christine Thomas’s prompt might look something like this:
Your Home Directory
Once logged in, you are deposited into your home directory. Every user has a home directory. Your home directory is where you will store most of your files.
Show the present working directory
To see the complete name and path of the current working directory, use the command
$ pwd /homedir/employees/c/ct27
This prints the full directory path. Here, Christine’s home directory name is
ct27 which is contained within a directory called
c which is inside the directory
employees inside the directory
homedir. The Linux directory structure is a hierarchical tree structure.
Show contents of a directory
To see a list of the files and directories in the current directory type
ls -l (list directory contents using long format), e.g.,
$ ls -l total 180 drwxr-xr-x 3 ct27 nobody 4096 Apr 5 2023 mywork drwxr-xr-x 3 ct27 nobody 4096 Apr 3 2023 archived-work -rw-r--r-- 1 ct27 nobody 0 Mar 18 2023 prog.sas7bdat -rw-r--r-- 1 ct27 nobody 1421 Mar 18 2023 prog.sas7bdat.log
ls is the command and
-l is, in this example, the option for the command. The
-l option formats the results into long format. Long format lists more than just the names of the files which is what
ls alone would show. In this example, the output shows two directories –
archived-work (notice the
d at the beginning of the line), and two files –
prog.sas7bdat.log. Some other information we see, e.g., the size of the log file is 1421 bytes, its owner is
ct27, it’s last modification date is
Apr 5 2023.
Auto Completion in the Shell
Press the `Tab` key after enough of the word you are trying to complete has been typed in. If when hitting tab the word is not completed there are probably multiple possibilities for the completion. Press tab again and it will list the possibilities.
Create a sub-directory
Say you would like to work on a project. It is probably convenient to create a sub-directory to hold the project’s files, i.e., program, data and results. To create a directory use the
mkdir (make directory) command, e.g.,
$ mkdir costProject
This command creates a new directory called
costProject inside the current directory.
Verify this by typing
Note: Linux is case sensitive, so for example
costproject is not the same as
Change to a subdirectory
To change into the costProject directory, i.e., make it the current directory, use the
cd (change directory) command, e.g.,
$ cd costProject
Verify that we are in the
costProject directory using
$ pwd /homedir/employees/c/ct27/costProject
Create or edit a file
nano is a simple text editor used to create or edit a data or program file, etc. For example, to edit a file called
$ nano costdata.dat
This picture shows the nano editor editing the file
costdata.dat. Along the bottom of the nano editor are the editor’s commands. The character
^ is the
ctrl key. To save the file you type
ctrl-o and then to exit nano type
List the contents of a file
more command displays the contents of a file, one screen-full at a time. Press the space bar to move forward screen by screen until the end of the file is reached or press the letter q, for quit., E.g.,
$ more costdata.dat
If the file contents are larger than can be shown in one page, the
more command shows you the first page and halts. To see the next page press the space bar and to quit type
If you get stuck or “hung” after typing a command, etc., then use
ctrl-c to break out or cancel your current command.
ctrl-creturns you to the command prompt.
Linux Tutorial Continued
Most Linux commands are short, typically an abbreviation or mnemonic for what the command does. For example, the command to delete a file is
rm which is short for remove. Recall: Linux is case-sensitive, i.e., it distinguishes between lowercase and uppercase (recognizing commands in lowercase only).
Most commands follow a common syntax:
$ command -options arguments
Here are some examples of basic Linux commands and command syntax.
To list all of the files in your current directory, type
To get a long listing of the files in your current working directory including information on size, date of modification and permissions, type
$ ls -l
To make a copy of a file and give it a new name, type
$ cp costdata.dat costdata.dat.bak
To remove (delete) a file, type
$ rm costdata.dat
Note: There is no undo in Linux therefore once a file has been deleted there is no easy way to recover it.
To rename (move) a file, type
$ mv costdata.dat.bak newcostdata.dat
To create a sub-directory, type
$ mkdir study1
To change (move down) into the new directory, type
$ cd study1
To change (move up) to the previous directory, type
$ cd ..
To remove a directory, type
$ rmdir study1
To remove ALL files in the current directory whose name begins with
$ rm costdata*
The asterisk (
*) is a wildcard character that matches one or more characters. Be VERY careful with removing files and using the * wildcard character. You might end up permanently deleting more than you intended. Always do a list first, e.g.,
ls costdata* to show the files that would be deleted with the
rm costdata* command.
Redirecting Input and Output
Commands usually display their results to the screen. Also, commands normally operate on data as you type it in from the keyboard. A right angle-bracket
> (called an “into”) on the command line indicates that the next word is the name of a file or device in which to place, or redirect the output of a command, e.g.,
$ ls > list
will place the output of the
ls command in a file named
list. If a file named
list existed before you entered this command, any previous contents will be over written.
You can append to the end of a file using a double right angle-bracket
>> (called an “onto”). For example, if the next command entered was:
$ date >> list
The output of the
date command would be added to the bottom of the file called
The output of one command can be fed as input into to another command. The symbol for the input/output (I/O) connection is a vertical bar
| called a pipe.
For example, a directory containing many files will scroll off the screen if just
ls is used. If a pipe is used to direct the output of
ls to be the input of
more, then the directory listing will be shown one screen-full at a time and will not scroll off the screen.
$ ls | more
To get on-line help in Linux, use the
man command. It provides access to a comprehensive online Linux manual. Type
man followed by a command or topic on which you want information:
$ man <command>
To make the online manual more helpful, an index is provided. The index is accessed with the
-k option of the
man command. For example:
$ man -k directory
will display a one-line synopsis of all manual pages having to do with directories.The Linux File System
Linux uses a hierarchical file structure, which is made up of files, directories and sub-directories. A file can hold text, data, or a program. Directories contain files and sub-directories. A sub-directory is a directory that has been created within another directory.
You can also use the ‘–help’ to get a description of the command’s usage. Simply type your command whose usage you to know in the terminal with –h or –help after a space and press enter. And you’ll get the complete usage of that command as shown below. An example below:
$ cat --help
Since Linux is set up to let users share files, you have the option of allowing or denying access to others on the system. Permissions determine who may access your files and directories or what may be done with a file or a directory. Use
ls -l to see what permissions your files and directories have.
-rw------- 1 ct27 devel Aug 20 10:15 logon -rwx------ 1 ct27 devel Aug 19 15:23 a.out -r-xr-xr-x 1 ct27 devel Aug 28 09:48 ls-list drwx------ 1 ct27 resch Aug 27 15:45 sas-one/ drw------- 1 ct27 resch Aug 27 15:45 tex/
- at the far left indicate the permission of each file and directory. There are 10 positions. Position 1 is the directory indicator. Positions 2,3,4 apply to the owner (creator) in this case ct27. Positions 5,6,7 apply to the group. Here, there are two different groups shown,
resch. Positions 8, 9,10 apply to all users.
The meaning of the letters are:
If the first letter is a “d”, the file is a directory. If the first character is a hyphen (“-“), then it is a regular file.
A file must be readable to be looked at or copied. A directory must be readable for you to list its contents.
A file must be writable in order for you to modify it, remove it, or rename it. A directory must be writable in order for you to add or delete files in it.
A file with executable permissions is one you can run, such as a program or a shell script. A directory must be executable in order for you to move into it (using the cd command), list its contents, or create or delete files there.
The hyphen (
-) appears when the permission is switched off. For instance, if a hyphen (
-) appears in place of an
r, then the file or directory is not readable.
The file is read/write for owner, read only for others.
The directory is read/write/search for owner, read/search for group, searchable only for others.
Changing File and Directory Permissions
The file and directory permission levels in Linux can be changed to allow or deny access to other users. The
chmod command is used to set the protection level. You can add or remove protection levels by using either
+ (add) or
- (remove) with
chmod and a letter signifying a class of users:
- u for the file owner
- g for a system defined group
- o for users in neither u or g
- a for all users
- and the desired access settings:
- r for read access
- w for write access
- x for execute access
For example to change the file called
my.dat with the permissions:
to read/write/execute for all users (owner, group, and other) type the command:
$ chmod a+rwx my.dat
The resultant permissions would be:
Now, change the permissions of “my.dat” so that only the owner can read, modify or delete it, i.e.:
$ chmod u-x my.dat $ chmod g-rwx my.dat $ chmod o-rwx my.dat
The resulting permissions are:
The most recent commands typed at the command line interface are saved and can be viewed or retrieved for re-use. Access the history by pressing the up arrow. To search for a command in the history type
ctrl-r, type the search text, then press enter to re-execute or
ctrl-c to abort
Basic Cursor Movement, Cut, Paste and Undo
|move cursor to beginning of line|
|move cursor to end of line|
|cut everything after the cursor|
|paste the last thing cut|
|display contents of a file|
|moves you to directory called dir|
|diplay the current working directory|
|sets permissions on a file|
|copies a file|
|compare two files|
|exit Linux shell|
|lists file type of given file|
|search for file called filename|
|search for files containing search-string|
|search file for the text searchstring|
|displays top lines of a file|
|displays recently entered commands|
|lists the contents of a directory|
|like ls, but in long format|
|displays manual pages about cmd|
|creates a directory|
|displays the contents of a file|
|moves or renames a file|
|launches a baskic text editor to edit filename|
|tells you which directory you’re in|
|removes a file|
|removes a directory|
|sort content of files|
|displays the last lines of a file|