NAME | DESCRIPTION | NOTES | SEE ALSO | COLOPHON

INTRO(1)                     Linux User's Manual                    INTRO(1)

NAME         top

       intro - introduction to user commands

DESCRIPTION         top

       Section 1 of the manual describes user commands and tools, for
       example, file manipulation tools, shells, compilers, web browsers,
       file and image viewers and editors, and so on.

NOTES         top

       Linux is a flavor of UNIX, and as a first approximation all user
       commands under UNIX work precisely the same under Linux (and FreeBSD
       and lots of other UNIX-like systems).

       Under Linux, there are GUIs (graphical user interfaces), where you
       can point and click and drag, and hopefully get work done without
       first reading lots of documentation.  The traditional UNIX
       environment is a CLI (command line interface), where you type
       commands to tell the computer what to do.  That is faster and more
       powerful, but requires finding out what the commands are.  Below a
       bare minimum, to get started.

   Login
       In order to start working, you probably first have to open a session
       by giving your username and password.  The program login(1) now
       starts a shell (command interpreter) for you.  In case of a graphical
       login, you get a screen with menus or icons and a mouse click will
       start a shell in a window.  See also xterm(1).

   The shell
       One types commands to the shell, the command interpreter.  It is not
       built-in, but is just a program and you can change your shell.
       Everybody has her own favorite one.  The standard one is called sh.
       See also ash(1), bash(1), chsh(1), csh(1), dash(1), ksh(1), zsh(1).

       A session might go like:

              knuth login: aeb
              Password: ********
              $ date
              Tue Aug  6 23:50:44 CEST 2002
              $ cal
                   August 2002
              Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
                           1  2  3
               4  5  6  7  8  9 10
              11 12 13 14 15 16 17
              18 19 20 21 22 23 24
              25 26 27 28 29 30 31

              $ ls
              bin  tel
              $ ls -l
              total 2
              drwxrwxr-x   2 aeb       1024 Aug  6 23:51 bin
              -rw-rw-r--   1 aeb         37 Aug  6 23:52 tel
              $ cat tel
              maja    0501-1136285
              peter   0136-7399214
              $ cp tel tel2
              $ ls -l
              total 3
              drwxr-xr-x   2 aeb       1024 Aug  6 23:51 bin
              -rw-r--r--   1 aeb         37 Aug  6 23:52 tel
              -rw-r--r--   1 aeb         37 Aug  6 23:53 tel2
              $ mv tel tel1
              $ ls -l
              total 3
              drwxr-xr-x   2 aeb       1024 Aug  6 23:51 bin
              -rw-r--r--   1 aeb         37 Aug  6 23:52 tel1
              -rw-r--r--   1 aeb         37 Aug  6 23:53 tel2
              $ diff tel1 tel2
              $ rm tel1
              $ grep maja tel2
              maja    0501-1136285
              $

       Here typing Control-D ended the session.

       The $ here was the command prompt—it is the shell's way of indicating
       that it is ready for the next command.  The prompt can be customized
       in lots of ways, and one might include stuff like username, machine
       name, current directory, time, and so on.  An assignment PS1="What
       next, master? " would change the prompt as indicated.

       We see that there are commands date (that gives date and time), and
       cal (that gives a calendar).

       The command ls lists the contents of the current directory—it tells
       you what files you have.  With a -l option it gives a long listing,
       that includes the owner and size and date of the file, and the
       permissions people have for reading and/or changing the file.  For
       example, the file "tel" here is 37 bytes long, owned by aeb and the
       owner can read and write it, others can only read it.  Owner and
       permissions can be changed by the commands chown and chmod.

       The command cat will show the contents of a file.  (The name is from
       "concatenate and print": all files given as parameters are
       concatenated and sent to "standard output" (see stdout(3)), here the
       terminal screen.)

       The command cp (from "copy") will copy a file.

       The command mv (from "move"), on the other hand, only renames it.

       The command diff lists the differences between two files.  Here there
       was no output because there were no differences.

       The command rm (from "remove") deletes the file, and be careful! it
       is gone.  No wastepaper basket or anything.  Deleted means lost.

       The command grep (from "g/re/p") finds occurrences of a string in one
       or more files.  Here it finds Maja's telephone number.

   Pathnames and the current directory
       Files live in a large tree, the file hierarchy.  Each has a pathname
       describing the path from the root of the tree (which is called /) to
       the file.  For example, such a full pathname might be /home/aeb/tel.
       Always using full pathnames would be inconvenient, and the name of a
       file in the current directory may be abbreviated by giving only the
       last component.  That is why /home/aeb/tel can be abbreviated to tel
       when the current directory is /home/aeb.

       The command pwd prints the current directory.

       The command cd changes the current directory.

       Try alternatively cd and pwd commands and explore cd usage: "cd", "cd
       .", "cd ..", "cd /" and "cd ~".

   Directories
       The command mkdir makes a new directory.

       The command rmdir removes a directory if it is empty, and complains
       otherwise.

       The command find (with a rather baroque syntax) will find files with
       given name or other properties.  For example, "find . -name tel"
       would find the file tel starting in the present directory (which is
       called .).  And "find / -name tel" would do the same, but starting at
       the root of the tree.  Large searches on a multi-GB disk will be
       time-consuming, and it may be better to use locate(1).

   Disks and filesystems
       The command mount will attach the filesystem found on some disk (or
       floppy, or CDROM or so) to the big filesystem hierarchy.  And umount
       detaches it again.  The command df will tell you how much of your
       disk is still free.

   Processes
       On a UNIX system many user and system processes run simultaneously.
       The one you are talking to runs in the foreground, the others in the
       background.  The command ps will show you which processes are active
       and what numbers these processes have.  The command kill allows you
       to get rid of them.  Without option this is a friendly request:
       please go away.  And "kill -9" followed by the number of the process
       is an immediate kill.  Foreground processes can often be killed by
       typing Control-C.

   Getting information
       There are thousands of commands, each with many options.
       Traditionally commands are documented on man pages, (like this one),
       so that the command "man kill" will document the use of the command
       "kill" (and "man man" document the command "man").  The program man
       sends the text through some pager, usually less.  Hit the space bar
       to get the next page, hit q to quit.

       In documentation it is customary to refer to man pages by giving the
       name and section number, as in man(1).  Man pages are terse, and
       allow you to find quickly some forgotten detail.  For newcomers an
       introductory text with more examples and explanations is useful.

       A lot of GNU/FSF software is provided with info files.  Type "info
       info" for an introduction on the use of the program info.

       Special topics are often treated in HOWTOs.  Look in
       /usr/share/doc/howto/en and use a browser if you find HTML files
       there.

SEE ALSO         top

       ash(1), bash(1), chsh(1), csh(1), dash(1), ksh(1), locate(1),
       login(1), man(1), xterm(1), zsh(1), wait(2), stdout(3), man-pages(7),
       standards(7)

COLOPHON         top

       This page is part of release 4.08 of the Linux man-pages project.  A
       description of the project, information about reporting bugs, and the
       latest version of this page, can be found at
       https://www.kernel.org/doc/man-pages/.

Linux                            2015-07-23                         INTRO(1)