Getting started with Linux. The first steps.

The Linux virtual terminal in action.
The Linux virtual terminal in action.

Getting started with Linux for the first time is intimidating if you want to use the Linux command-line and you do not know the commands to use the prompt to its full potential. The best way to get aquainted with the Linux system after installation is to open the Gnome terminal or the Konsole and type man intro. An excerpt from this manual page is shown below. This manual page will give you a quick introduction to the BASH shell or Bourne Again Shell, this is the default shell prompt for Linux, there are others such as the sh shell, as well as Ksh, Zsh and Csh, but the Bash shell is the easiest and most common shell used by Linux distributions. If you wish to type a command such as cat myfile.txt you do not need to type the whole command. You may type: cat my[TAB], i.e type cat my then press the TAB key to auto-complete the command. Once you get used to using the TAB key to auto-complete the commands you are typing on the Linux command line the process will become very fast indeed. Using TAB will show a list of possible completions of a command making it clear what you need to type. You may also use wildcards, i.e typing ls DS* in a folder full of files will show a listing of all of the digital camera pictures that are in the folder. or ls -l *.jpg to list all of the jpg files in that folder.

INTRO(1)                                                    Linux User's Manual                                                    INTRO(1)

       intro - Introduction to user commands

       Section  1  of  the manual describes user commands and tools, for example, file manipulation tools, shells, compilers, web browsers,
       file and image viewers and editors, and so on.

       All commands yield a status value on termination.  This value can be tested (e.g., in most shells the variable $?  contains the status  of  the last executed command) to see whether the command completed successfully.  A zero exit status is conventionally used to
       indicate success, and a nonzero status means that the command was unsuccessful.  (Details  of  the  exit  status  can  be  found  in
       wait(2).)  A nonzero exit status can be in the range 1 to 255, and some commands use different nonzero status values to indicate the
       reason why the command failed.

       Linux is a flavor of UNIX, and as a first approximation all user commands under UNIX work precisely the same under Linux (and  FreeBSD and lots of other UNIX-like systems).

       Under  Linux there are GUIs (graphical user interfaces), where you can point and click and drag, and hopefully get work done without
       first reading lots of documentation.  The traditional UNIX environment is a CLI (command line interface), where you type commands to
       tell the computer what to do.  That is faster and more powerful, but requires finding out what the commands are.  Below a bare minimum,
       to get started.

       In order to start working, you probably first have to login, that is, give your username and password.  See also login(1).  The program login now starts a shell (command interpreter) for you.  In case of a graphical login, you get a screen with menus or icons and
       a mouse click will start a shell in a window.  See also xterm(1).

   The shell
       One types commands to the shell, the command interpreter.  It is not built-in, but is just a program and you can change your  shell.
       Everybody has her own favorite one.  The standard one is called sh.  See also ash(1), bash(1), csh(1), zsh(1), chsh(1).

       A session might go like

              knuth login: aeb
              Password: ********
              % date
              Tue Aug  6 23:50:44 CEST 2002
              % cal
                   August 2002
              Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
                           1  2  3
               4  5  6  7  8  9 10
              11 12 13 14 15 16 17
              18 19 20 21 22 23 24
              25 26 27 28 29 30 31

              % ls
              bin  tel
              % ls -l
              total 2
              drwxrwxr-x   2 aeb       1024 Aug  6 23:51 bin
              -rw-rw-r--   1 aeb         37 Aug  6 23:52 tel
 Manual page intro(1) line 1 (press h for help or q to quit)

There is a hypertext copy of this manual page here:

This is a very good way to learn the basic commands to navigate around your UNIX/Linux system with the command line. And my Linux PDFs here: You can even type man man to learn about the man command and how it works. A manual page that has 1 at the end, for example ls(1) is a command manual page. A manual page such as printf(3) is a manual page for a programming function. Sometimes a command and a function like printf() share the same name, in this case type man 3 printf to access the desired manual page.

To list a folder like in DOS, type ls -la to list the files vertically. If you type ls -hula, then the file listing will use kilobytes and megabytes instead of bytes in the filesize column.

Creating a zip file containing a file with the Linux command line is very easy. Just use the zip command that should be included with your Linux distribution. The -8 parameter is to increase the level of compression applied to the file. You can use -9 for even more compression.

[email protected]:~/Documents$ zip -8 phobos3.wad
updating: phobos3.wad (deflated 64%)

No comments have been made. Use this form to start the conversation :)

Leave a Reply