March 24, 2019

Basic Linux Tips and Tricks, Part 1 - page 3

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  • September 30, 2007
  • By A. Lizard

To work effectively at the command line beyond getting around in the directory tree, you'll need more commands than will fit in this article. The following will tell you where to find a good basic set of Linux CLI (command line interface) commands.

No matter how arcane it seems now, in a year or two, you'll have trouble remembering where you put this in your computer because you're you will be already familiar with all the main commands. If you're a newbie, you're probably among the last people who will have to know the CLI commands who aren't working with Linux itself for a living.

Print the following documents and put them with your troubleshooting information. If the GUI goes down, finding them will be far more difficult and since you'll only get a single full-screen console at a time, you'll want to occupy the screen real estate with commands, not command summaries.


Section 4 on vi and emacs are omitted on the basis that if you know what they are, you don't need this guide.

The basics don't change much with time, this was written back in 2002. Note that this is command-line only, if things go catastrophically wrong on your box, you may not have a GUI or the software that depends on it available. However, there have been enough changes since then to be worth listing:

  • Ignore the multimedia section,there are GUI applications for these functions which you'll want to use instead.
  • If you are a Debian user, use aptitude or apt-get to install programs, rpm doesn't work (which is a good thing). E.g., # aptitude install program name
  • Section 2--Normal shutdown/reboot: # /sbin/poweroff or # /sbin/reboot
  • Section 3--find: If you're searching more than a single directory or tree, use locate instead

Another excellent 120+ page Linux command summary is the The Linux Documentation Project's GNU/Linux Command-Line Tools.

For detailed information on specific commands, you don't even have to go online. Just enter:

$ man application name

Try the man command with different commands. man documentation tends to be seen by novices as extremely arcane and requiring a full understanding of *nix to understand it. If what you see in a man file doesn't make sense, you can generally find a clearer explanation in the various how-tos and Web postings that deal with how that command is used in context.

Part 2 of this series will discuss how to find solutions for specific Linux problems.

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