Here's the latest in an irregular series of short posts that teach some Linux command line basics that you might not know or may have forgotten.
While I keep saying that you don't need to use the command line in order to use Linux, knowing a few basic commands can be a useful.
Take, for example, times when you have a folder on your hard drive packed with files. Hands up if you don't have at least one. Yeah, I thought so. Me, too.
How do you effectively and efficiently view the files in a directory? And how do you pinpoint the files that you want to see? By using the ls command, of course.
Let's take a look at some of the ways in which you can use ls.
Letting Your Fingers Do the Walking
Crack open a terminal and navigate to a folder. Then, type the command ls.
That gives you a listing of all the files in the directory. You get the names of the files but not much else. You can get more information about a file by typing the command ls -l.
Using the -l option, you get the following information:
- The name of the file
- The size of the file in kilobytes
- The permissions on the file
- Who created the file
- Who last modified the file
- The date on which the file was last modified
There's one more option that I want to look at. It's -a. When you run ls -a you get a listing of all the files in a directory, including the hidden ones. Hidden files begin with a dot, for example .mozilla.
Running ls list all of the files in a folder. Which is OK if there are a few of them. But what not so good if you have a lot of them. You can zero in on a file or type of file by using a wildcard.
For example, let's say you have a folder filled with songs. And you want to get a listing of all of the Ogg Vorbis files. To do that, run the command ls *.ogg.
You can further narrow down the number of files returned by using another wildcard. Like what? Say you want to list all of the MP3 files in a folder whose names contain the word The. To do that, type ls *The*.mp3.
The ls command is very useful and very flexible. And it has a number of other options, which you can read about here.