Boston Python workshop 2/Friday setup/Terminal navigation on Linux

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There are three commands that we'll be using at a command prompt to navigate the filesystem on your computer:

  • ls
  • pwd
  • cd

ls lists the contents of a directory.
pwd gives the full directory path to your current directory.
cd moves you into a new directory (it stands for "change directory").

Let's practice using these commands.

Open a command prompt:[edit]

You can find the Terminal application at Applications/Accessories/Terminal, or it may already be on your menu bar.

Practice using ls, pwd, and cd[edit]

Type each of these commands and hit enter:

ls

This lists all the files in your home directory.


pwd

This displays the full directory path to your current directory, which is your home directory.


cd /

This will change you into the / root directory.


ls

This lists the contents of the / root directory.


cd home

This will change you into the home subdirectory of the / root directory.


ls

You should see a list of all the files in /home, including the directory for your username -- your home directory.


pwd

This displays the full directory path to your current directory, /home.


cd ..

.. means "parent directory", so this command moved you up to the parent directory. You were in /home, so now you are in /, the root directory.


ls

This lists the contents of the root directory, confirming where you are.


  • You can use Tab to auto-complete directory and file names. So from inside the root directory, if you type cd U and hit Tab, the command prompt will auto-complete the directory name as much as it can.
  • The command prompt maintains a command history. You can use the up arrow to cycle through old commands.

Success![edit]

You've practiced using ls, pwd, and cd to navigate your computer's filesystem from the command prompt.

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