GNU and Linux Commands Every First-timer Should Know

All countries have gradually started using the free operating system, Linux / Ubuntu. I have tried to list some important terminal commands below for enthusiast Linux/Ubuntu users who are looking for or tried to understand these commands. Hope this list will help.


Daily Use Commands

clear Clears the terminal screen.
cd Use this command to change current working directory. In plain words, navigate from one directory to another directory.
exit Stop any program, go out from Terminal, or come out from any point from any situation.
kill Stop any process. This command is like the "End Process" of Windows operating system.
ls It shows all files of any directory. When no directory path is specified, then this command shows the file list of the current folder the user is on.

This is abbreviation of the word, "manual". Issue this command to view the technical documentation of any command. It describes how a particular commands does, it's parameters, switches, etc. Not even that, issue the same command to view "man"'s manual, like this:

man man

pwd "pwd" stands for "Present Working Directory". Punching in in the Terminal, this command tells you the current folder path.
halt Depending upon arguments, this command stops all running processes, halts the computer, power-off and reboot the computer.
reboot Stops all running processes and then restarts the computer.

Stop all running processes and power-off the computer.


This command is abbreviation of "Super-User DO". "sudo" runs all commands as Super User or Root user. Using the power of this command, a user retains the permission to do "whatever he wishes".


Commands that Tells You About Your System

Linux command Uptime

date Shows the current date, day and time. You can modify the output of this command using arguments.
df  This commands shows the total disk space usage.
hostname  This Terminal command outputs the host name (means, the username) of current computer.
ps  Shows a list of running processes.
top  Displays different information of top processes that are currently running.
htop  It is a text-based interface that is used as a process monitor. It is much like the Task Manager of Windows operating system, but in text format.
uptime  This commands displays the time your computer since your computer was last restarted.


File Handling Commands

bzip2 This commands is used to compress (archive) files in one file in .bz2 format. Same command is used to decompress any archived .bz2 file.
chmod It is used to change the access permission of any or many files at a time.
chown You can use this command to change ownership of any or many files. Users who are granted the permission to change other's file, folder permission, can issue this command and change ownership.
cp Issue this command to copy file(s).
find, and, locate Use these commands to find file.
grep "grep" is an interesting command. It works like a wild card. With this command, a user can search a string in one or many files and displays a list of files in which the search string is found.
install This command is like "cp" copy command, but, differs in few ways. "install" command copies files, but, additionally sets the file mode bits and, if possible, their owner and group.
mkdir You issue this command to "make" a directory.
rmdir This commands deletes a directory. Users with proper permission can only delete folder.
mv This command is used to a file from one directory to another directory.
md5sum, sha1sum, sha256sum Use of one of these commands to test integrity of any file.
rm It is used to "delete" one or many files or folder. Using parameters, "rm" can delete recursive files, folders.
tar Added with argument parameters, this "tar" is used to compress files and folder. Same command is used to decompress any archived file.
zip, unzip These are another archive command. Depending of argument parameters, "zip" command compresses (archives) files and/or folders, while "unzip" does the opposite task, it decompresses any .zip file.
7za "7za" is an example of another archiving Terminal command. This command takes many arguments as command-line parameters to compress files and folders and decompresses archived files made by 7za.


Some other important commands

Linux tutorial vim a text-based editor

apt-get It is an advanced packaging tool. It is mainly used to install any package, delete, or reconfigure. In Debian-based distros, there is aptitude command.
ftp, sftp These commands are used to connect to FTP servers and transfer files between hosts.
wget It downloads file from a specific URL.
emacs "emacs" is a popular text editor.
gedit "gedit" is also a powerful text editor.
nano "nano" is also a user-friendly text editor.

"vim" is also a user-friendly text editor. vim – This is an advanced version of "vi" text editor. Both "vi" and "vim" are command-line text editor for Unix-like operating system. Although "vim" lacks graphical user interface, buttons, icons, etc., but this is popular along novice users for its friendly interface.



When a new *nix user comes to *nix environment, he/she may find it difficult to adapt to this environment. Users may feel crazy to see so many terminal commands, but there are abundant of tutorials available online for him/her. In this tutorial, a short list of commands that have been given, they are used frequently. Hopefully, the new users can benefit from this article. The list may not be perfect, but it will be updated regularly.


Photo Credit: Photo 1 from Osama Khalid

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