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Important Linux Directories

Posted by Parth Barot on April 4, 2006

There are many variants of Linux used in different computer systems today. Luckily, most Linux developers employ a common naming and utilization scheme that makes different variants of Linux easy to use and maintain. This article will discuss some important and common directories in many popular Linux distributions.


Each user of a Linux system is assigned a special directory, called “home” direectory, that represents their private space on the system. For example, if a user of the system is called tom, the home directory of tom will be /home/tom. Tom has the right to create any files and directories under his home directory. This is also the default location when tom logs into the system.


This is the home directory of the adminstrator or super user.


In addition to personal hard disk space in the home directories, users are also given special access to shared temporary space in the /tmp directory. Linux systems often implement quotas on user accounts to prevent anyone from using too much disk space. The /tmp directory allows all users access to additional space to meet short term needs without charging the space against their quota. All files placed in this directory are deleted automatically after a few days.


This directory stores all the configuration files needed for the operating system. For example, startup configuration scripts are found in /etc/rc.d and network configuration scripts are found in /etc/sysconfig. Normal users cannot modify the files in /etc./bin and /usr/bin

Most system commands are stored as binary files only in machine readable format. Commands appropriate for use by ordinary users are either placed in the /bin or /usr/bin directory. Core commands like rm, mv, ls, cd go into /bin while supplementary utilities like compilers, firefox browser and openoffice go into /usr/bin.
/sbin and /usr/sbin
Like /bin and /usr/bin, /sbin and /usr/sbin store commands to be used only by the super user, ie root user. These include commands for attaching and removing hardware, starting and stopping the system…etc.
This directory stores all the frequently changed files in the system. For example, incoming, outgoing mails, system logs, websites, ftp file archives…etc. very
There are only a few directories to know to really start using Linux. If you understand what the main directories are, then exploring the sub-direectories becomes much easier. If you are lost while navigating the directories, always use “cd /” to return back the the root, “cd ..” to go up one level or use “pwd” to find out where you are. Another command “which xxx” tells you where certain commands are located.


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