Saturday, 26 July 2008

Navigating folders from the command line

If you've followed the posts on this blog for a while, you should be reasonably comfortable using the command line to install software, edit configuration files and so on. You should also be aware of the layout of the Linux filesystem. However, you may not be aware of how to navigate it without using a graphical file manager such as Nautilus or Konqueror. So in this post I'm going to go through basic commands for navigating from the command line.

First of all is the cd command. This is short for "change directory". The default location for you to start is in your home directory, and entering the following:

will take you to your home directory. You can also use the ~ character (known as a tilde) as shorthand for your home directory, which is useful if referring to your home directory from elsewhere. So, entering the following:
cd ~

will give the same results as the previous command.

You can also navigate up one directory as follows:
cd ..

And can go back to the previous directory using this command:
cd -

These commands can be used as part of longer paths. For instance, say you are currently in /var/www but want to go to a folder called Music in your home folder. You can go there with this command:
cd /home/username/Music

Or you can use this:
cd ~/Music

Now, say you want to go from there to another folder in your home directory called Pictures. You can enter this:
cd ../Pictures

Then, to head back to the Music folder, you can enter the following:
cd -

And to head to the root of the filesystem, just enter the following:
cd /

Now, how can you see where you are? Easy, just enter the pwd command (short for Print Working Directory). Here I'm in the Desktop directory:

Got that? I recommend you spend a little time getting comfortable with these commands as they are the first building blocks in becoming proficient at the command line. Next time I'll go into creating and deleting files and folders.


Keith said...

looks like there's a typo. dir on windows is not the equivalent of cd on linux... dir on windows = ls on linux.

MattBD said...

Oops! Thanks for pointing that out, Keith. I'll change that right now.

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