Using the Command Line

If you're going to be using Linux, you will be spending a lot of time entering commands at the command line. That's just the way it is. Once you've started getting the hang of using the command line, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it, but if you've been using Windows, this is probably a foreign concept to you.

With that in mind, this section of the site is a tutorial on using the command line, including some of the most common and/or useful commands that you might use. In some cases, I'll talk a bit about some of the options or extra parameters you can use, but I won't always do that.

TODO: under construction

The Basics

If you're very new to the command line, there are some topics you might find useful, to get started. If you've used the command line before, you might not find all of this useful.

First of all, if you're looking for the most basic of basic tutorials, you can go to the Entering Commands page. This will explain what a command is, and what a parameter is.

Once you've got the hang of entering commands, you might also want to see the Using the Terminal page, which describes what a terminal is, and gives some information on the terminal you use in Ubuntu (by default), which is called BASH.

Also, as you're working with the command line, you'll need to do a lot of work with files and directories; you'll have to move around from directory to directory, and rename files, and delete them. (If you're not used to using the command line, you might be surprised how much you'll need to do this.) Luckily, it's quite easy to do. You can go to the Navigating Directories page for more info.

Getting Help

If you're using this basic tutorial to learn how to use the command line, you're definitely going to end up needing more help than I can provide. Luckily, Linux provides lots of ways for you to find help.

First of all, I should mention that you can use the man command to get a very good introduction to the command line, by typing the following command:

$ man intro

Similarly, as mentioned earlier, if you ever need help on a particular command, most commands support a -h or --help parameter, for getting extra help. Or, if you need even more information, you can use man to see the command's man page. For example, I could get more information about rm by typing man rm, which would show something similar to the following.


Files and Directories

You will spend a lot of time navigating the file system, and copying, moving, and deleting files. See the Files and Directories page for some helpful commands.

And, while you're at it, you might want some hints on working with text files.

Piping and Directing Output

Once you've got comfortable with the different commands available to you, you're ready for the next big step, which has an article all on its own: Piping and Directing Output.

Running a Task in the Background

Once you're getting comfortable with advanced tasks like piping and directing output, you might also want to start running some tasks in the background. You can learn how at Background Tasks.


  • find — may be complex (according to man intro)
  • locate — may be better than find
  • should be a link to wildcards
  • Virtual Consoles
  • nice command
  • nohup command

Commands for Getting System Info

  • free
  • df
  • top
  • uname — not incredibly useful
    • lsb_release is related


  • sudo — include a link to security
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