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Linux Tutorial

Introduction

This page will cover some basic commands for Linux that can be used for your Linux based servers. If you followed the Website Tutorial: Using Amazon Web Services: EC2 Instance, you should have your very own Ubuntu Server that uses the Linux kernel. The basic commands from this tutorial can be used on your Ubuntu EC2 Instance Web Server and other systems that have the Linux kernel. You can also download Ubuntu from their website and install it on a hard drive or a virtual machine using VirtualBox. I will be using the Ubuntu Server on VirtualBox for these tutorials.

Installing Ubuntu Server

This section will be dedicated to showing how to install the Ubuntu Server on VirtualBox. If you have already installed your Ubuntu Server, please head on over to the Basic Commands section.

The first step is to download the Ubuntu Server and VirtualBox. Run VirtualBox and you should be greeted with the window below. Select New and give your Ubuntu Server a Name. Select Linux for Type and Ubuntu (64-bit) for Version.

Virtual Machine Name

Virtual Machine Name

Select how much RAM you want to allocate to this virtual machine. I chose the default 1024 MB.

Virtual Machine RAM

Virtual Machine RAM

Select Create a virtual hard disk now so that the virtual machine has some space to store its files.

Virtual Machine Hard Disk

Virtual Machine Hard Disk

Select the file type for your hard disk. I kept mine as the default VDI. More information about the differences can be found here.

Virtual Machine Hard Disk Type

Virtual Machine Hard Disk Type

The hard disk can be dynamically allocated such that it doesn't take up space on your HDD until it needs to. This can be useful when you are running low on computer space. You can set it to a fixed size if you are not too worried about your HDD space.

Virtual Machine Hard Disk Storage

Virtual Machine Hard Disk Storage

Select how much space you want the virtual machine to take up on your HDD. I chose the default 10 GB but you can adjust it to whatever you want.

Virtual Machine Hard Disk Storage Amount

Virtual Machine Hard Disk Storage Amount

You should now be able to select Start to begin setting up your Ubuntu Server using VirtualBox.

Virtual Machine Start

Virtual Machine Start

Browse for your Ubuntu Server file you downloaded earlier and select Start.

Virtual Machine Select

Virtual Machine Start

Select your language of preference. You will need to use the arrow keys for navigation. Using your mouse will not work.

Ubuntu Language

Ubuntu Language

Select the default choice of Install Ubuntu Server.

Install Ubuntu Server

Install Ubuntu Server

Select your language of preference again.

Ubuntu Language 2

Ubuntu Language 2

Select your location in order to acquire the correct time zone.

Select Your Location

Select Your Location

You can configure your keyboard by typing in some keys or you can select a keyboard from the list available. Select No if you already know what kind of keyboard you have.

Keyboard 1

Keyboard 1


Keyboard 2

Keyboard 2


Keyboard 3

Keyboard 3

Select a hostname for your server. I named my server ubuntu.

Hostname

Hostname

Enter your name that will be associated with your username later on. I have entered Test User for this tutorial.

Full Name

Full Name

Enter your username. I have selected test for this tutorial.

Username

Username

Type in your password and confirm.

Password

Password


Confirm Password

Confirm Password

Select Yes to encrypt your files.

Encrypt

Encrypt

Confirm that your Time Zone is correct.

Time Zone

Time Zone

Select the default choice for the guided partition option.

Guided

Guided

Select your VirtualBox HDD from before.

VirtualBox HDD

VirtualBox HDD

Select Yes to install the partitioning scheme.

Partitioning Scheme

Partitioning Scheme

Select how much space you want to allocate for the partition of this volume. The amount you selected during the VirtualBox configuration should be filled in by default.

Amount of Volume

Amount of Volume

Select Yes to write partition changes.

Partition Changes

Partition Changes

You can leave the HTTP proxy information blank.

HTTP Proxy Information

HTTP Proxy Information

Select the No automatic updates option to manually update your system.

Updates

Updates

Choose which software packages you want preinstalled on the server. I am only installing the standard system utilities.

Software Selection

Software Selection

Install the GRUB Boot Loader.

GRUB Boot Loader

GRUB Boot Loader

Select Continue as the installation is now complete and wait for the Ubuntu Server to automatically reboot.

Installation Complete

Installation Complete

You should now be able to sign in with your username and password. We have now installed the Ubuntu Server on a virtual machine using VirtualBox. You can now quit and log in to your Ubuntu Server with VirtualBox whenever you want.

Log In

Log In


Basic Commands

This section will discuss some basic commands for systems that use the Linux kernel. Below is a list of commands that this tutorial covers.

Clear (clear)

The clear command allows you to clear the window in order to prevent cluttering of the terminal.

Input:

clear
Clear

Clear


Output:

Cleared

Cleared



Print Working Directory (pwd)

The print working directory pwd command states the current directory. By default you start off in your own user directory when you log in.

Input:

pwd

Output:

Show Current Directory

Show Current Directory



Make Directory (mkdir)

You can create directories by using the command mkdir DIRECTORYNAME. You can see the contents of the current directory by using the ls command. The image below shows an empty directory using the ls command before we make the directory. After the new directory testdirectory is created, it is seen using the ls command.

Input:

ls mkdir testdirectory ls

Output:

Make Directory

Make Directory



You can remove directories by using the command rmdir DIRECTORYNAME.

Input:

ls rmdir testdirectory ls

Output:

Remove Directory

Remove Directory



However, you will get an error if the directory is not empty.

Input:

rmdir testdirectory

Output:

Remove Directory Not Empty

Remove Directory Not Empty



You would then need to use the remove command (rm) along with the recursive (-r) option rm -r DIRECTORYNAME to remove the directory if it is not empty.

Input:

rm -r testdirectory

Output:

Remove Directory with rm -r

Remove Directory with rm -r



Change Directory (cd)

The change directory cd DIRECTORYNAME command allows you to navigate through directories. The input below takes me to the directory testdirectory. I have also made multiple test directories within testdirectory to illustrate how one can keep navigating further into other directories.

Note: One can press tab in order to autocomplete a file or directory name.

Input:

cd testdirectory

Output:

Change Directory

Change Directory



Input:

cd testdirectory/testdirectory2/testdirectory3

Output:

Change Directory Multiple

Change Directory Multiple



You can go up one directory by using the cd .. command or multiple directories cd ../../.. and so on.

Input:

cd ..

Output:

Go Up One Directory

Go Up One Directory



Input:

cd ../../..

Output:

Go Up Multiple Directories

Go Up Multiple Directories



Typing cd ../../../../../.. can be a hassle so you can also use the cd ~ command to take you to your home directory. This command can be used in whichever directory you are currently in.

Input:

cd ~

Output:

Change to Home Directory

Change to Home Directory



The cd ~ command can also be useful if you are switching to directories within your home directory by changing the command to cd ~/. I have made two directories named testdirectory and anotherdirectory that are within my home directory. In the image below, I navigate to the directory testdirectory/testdirectory2/testdirectory3. I then use cd ~/anotherdirectory/anotherdirectory2 to navigate to the directory anotherdirectory/anotherdirectory2 which is within my home directory.

An error occurs if the change directory command omitted the ~ as this would mean you are looking for the directory anotherdirectory/anotherdirectory2 within the directory testdirectory/testdirectory2/testdirectory3 instead of within the home directory.

Input:

cd ~/anotherdirectory/anotherdirectory2

Output:

Change to Directories Within Home Directory

Change to Directories Within Home Directory



Change to Directories Within Home Directory Error

Change to Directories Within Home Directory Error



The cd / command takes you to the root directory of the server which is the directory that contains all directories. This can also be used in whichever directory you are currently in. In the second image, I switch from the directory testdirectory/testdirectory2/testdirectory3 to my home directory home/test using the cd / command.

Input:

cd /

Output:

Root Directory

Root Directory



Input:

cd /home/test

Output:

Change to Directories Within Root Directory

Change to Directories Within Root Directory



Touch (touch)

The touch FILENAME command creates an empty file in the current directory. You can also create files in other directories by stating the directory name before the file name as seen in the second image. If you want to create a certain file type, just include the file extension in the name, e.g. file1.html instead of file1.

Note: A directory and file cannot have the same name as seen in the third image.

Input:

touch file1

Output:

Create a File

Create a File



Input:

touch testdirectory/file2

Output:

Create a File in Another Directory

Create a File in Another Directory



Input:

mkdir file1

Output:

Same Name

Same Name



The rm command also works with files. You can also delete files in other directories by stating the directory name before the file name as seen in the second image.

Input:

rm file1

Output:

Remove a File

Remove a File



Input:

rm testdirectory/file2

Output:

Remove a File in Another Directory

Remove a File in Another Directory



Move (mv)

The move mv command allows you to move a file by stating a directory name. The first image shows the file file1 moving from the home directory to the directory anotherdirectory. The second image shows the file file1 moving from the directory anotherdirectory to the home directory using the tilde ~ character.

Input:

mv file1 anotherdirectory

Output:

Move a File

Move a File



Input:

mv file1 ~

Output:

Move a File to Home Directory

Move a File to Home Directory



The move mv command also allows you to rename a file by stating a file name. The first image shows the file file1 being renamed to file10. The second image shows the file file1 moving from the home directory to the directory anotherdirectory and being renamed to file10. The third image depicts file file10 moving back to the home directory and being renamed to file1.

Input:

mv file1 file10

Output:

Rename a File

Rename a File



Input:

mv file1 anotherdirectory/file10

Output:

Move and Rename a File

Move and Rename a File



Input:

mv file10 ~/file1

Output:

Move Home and Rename a File

Move Home and Rename a File



Copy (cp)

The copy cp command allows you to copy files. The first command copies file1 to file10. The second command copies file10 to the directory anotherdirectory. The third command copies file10 to the directory anotherdirectory and renames it file20.

Input:

cp file1 file10

Output:

Copy a File

Copy a File



Input:

cp file10 anotherdirectory/

Output:

Copy a File to Directory

Copy a File to Directory



Input:

cp file10 anotherdirectory/file20

Output:

Copy a File to Directory and Rename It

Copy a File to Directory and Rename It



The copy cp command can also be used to copy directories by using the recursive -r option. The first command copies the directory anotherdirectory and all of its contents to the directory testdirectory. If you only want to copy the contents but not the directory itself, you will need to add the dot . to the end of the folder you are copying as seen in the second command. You can also copy the contents to another directory that doesn't exist by using the third command.

Input:

cp -r anotherdirectory/ testdirectory/

Output:

Copy a Directory to Another Directory

Copy a Directory to Another Directory



Input:

cp -r anotherdirectory/. testdirectory/

Output:

Copy a Directory's Content to Another Directory

Copy a Directory's Content to Another Directory



Input:

cp -r anotherdirectory/ yetanotherdirectory/

Output:

Copy a Directory's Content to Another Directory That Hasn't Been Created

Copy a Directory's Content to Another Directory That Hasn't Been Created



Add User (adduser)

If you want to enable other people to use your server, you can add users using the adduser command. The command below adds a user with the username anotheruser. You will need to add the superuser do sudo command to the beginning of the adduser command as adding a user requires heightened permissions. You will then be asked for your password to confirm this action then you will be asked to create a password for the new user.

Input:

sudo adduser anotheruser

Output:

Add User

Add User



You can find the new user's home directory if you go the /home directory which contains all users' home directories.

Input:

cd /home

Output:

User Home Directory

User Home Directory



You can delete a user by using the userdel command. Using userdel USERNAME deletes the user while userdel -r USERNAME deletes the user and their home directory.

Input:

sudo userdel anotheruser sudo userdel -r anotheruser

Output:

Delete User

Delete User



Delete User and Their Home Directory

Delete User and Their Home Directory



List (ls)

The ls command lists the contents of a directory. We are in the user test's home directory in the image below.

The first command (ls) lists the files, links, and directories.

The second command (ls -l) lists the files, links, and directories in the long format (-l) with more metadata shown.

The third command (ls -lh) lists the files, links, and directories in the long format (-l) with human readable (-h) file sizes.

  1. The first column contains the permissions with the first character signify if it's a file, link, or directory represented by a -, l, or d respectively.
  2. The second column is the link count.
  3. The third column is the owner of that file, link, or directory.
  4. The fourth column is the group of that file, link, or directory.
  5. The fifth column is the file size.
  6. The sixth column is the date of last modification.
  7. The last column is the name of the file, link, or directory.

Input:

ls ls -l ls -lh

Output:

Contents of a Directory

Contents of a Directory



Permissions

As seen in the image below, the owner and group of the contents in a user's home directory is the user. We can see that the owner and group for the test user home directory is test. The first column states what kind of permissions certain users have for that directory or file. The permissions are ordered OWNER-GROUP-OTHERS with three possible letters each. So here the OWNER:test has rwx permissions which are read, write, and execute. The GROUP:test has --- permissions which are none. The OTHERS also have --- permissions which are none. Since the owner of the test user home directory is test and we were logged in as test, creating files and directories did not cause any errors. The limited permissions for GROUP and OTHERS is due to test being the first user created.

If we take a look at the anotheruser user home directory, the OWNER:anotheruser has rwx permissions which are read, write, and execute. The GROUP:anotheruser has r-x permissions which are read and execute only. The OTHERS also have r-x permissions which are read and execute only. The explanations for each permission can be seen below.

For Files:
Read allows you to look into the file.
Write allows you to edit the file.
Execute allows you to run the file.
For Directories:
Read allows you to see the files within the directory.
Write allows you to create, edit, and delete files within the directory and delete the directory.
Execute allows you to enter the directory using the change directory command (cd \DIRECTORYNAME).

Input:

ls -lh

Output:

Home Permissions

Home Permissions



If the user test tries to create file or directory in anotheruser's home directory an error will occur since the user test does not have write permissions as the user test is not the owner of that directory.

Input:

touch file1 mkdir directory1

Output:

Permission Error

Permission Error



Using the superuser do sudo command allows a user to have root permissions and edit anything even if they are not the owner or part of the group. A regular user or a user not using sudo cannot edit those files. Note that using sudo causes the owner and group of the file or directory to be root.

Input:

sudo touch file1 sudo mkdir directory1

Output:

Use sudo to Create File and Directory

Use sudo to Create File and Directory



However, not all users are part of the sudo group and can use the sudo command. The command groups USERNAME allows you to see what groups a certain user belongs to. As seen below, the user test belongs to sudo and a bunch of other groups while the user anotheruser only belongs to their own group: anotheruser.

Input:

groups test groups anotheruser

Output:

Groups

Groups



Use the command exit to log out of the current user and enter your second user credentials. Notice the username changed before the @ in the terminal.

Input:

exit

Output:

Switch Users

Switch Users



You can change the password of a user using the password passwd command so that it is not the same password that was assigned on the creation of the user.

Input:

passwd

Output:

Change Password

Change Password



If the user anotheruser tries to change directories into the user test's home directory, they will get denied due to the OTHERS having --- no permissions. If the user anotheruser tries to use sudo and is not the in sudo group, the incident will be reported.

Input:

cd test/ sudo cd test/

Output:

Reported

Reported



User Modification (usermod)

The user modification usermod command allows sudo to modify users. Adding a user to a group is one of those modifications. The command below modifies the user (usermod) and appends (-a) the group (-G) sudo to the user anotheruser's groups.

Input:

sudo usermod -a -G sudo anotheruser

Output:

Add User to Group

Add User to Group



A user can also be removed from a group using the deluser command.

Input:

sudo deluser anotheruser sudo

Output:

Delete User from Group

Delete User from Group



Add Group (addgroup)

A group can be created so that both users (test and anotheruser) can modify files without the sudo command. A group is created using the addgroup command. We then add both users (test and anotheruser) to the group bothusers.

Input:

sudo addgroup bothusers sudo usermod -a -G bothusers test sudo usermod -a -G bothusers anotheruser

Output:

Add Group bothusers

Add Group bothusers



A directory is created titled directoryforbothusers with the sudo command. However, since it was created with the sudo command, the owner and group is root.

Input:

sudo mkdir directoryforbothusers ls -lh

Output:

Directory for Both Users

Directory for Both Users



Change Ownership (chown)

The change onwership chown command allows sudo to change the owner or group of a file. In the image below, the owner and the group of the directory directoryforbothusers is changed to test and bothusers respectively. Anything that would have been in the directory directoryforbothusers would have also changed ownership due to the recursive (-R) option.

Note: If you wanted to change the owner of directory only it would be sudo chown -R USERNAME DIRECTORYNAME. If you wanted to change only the group it would be sudo chown -R :GROUPNAME DIRECTORYNAME.

Input:

sudo chown -R test:bothusers /home/directoryforbothusers/

Output:

Change Ownership

Change Ownership



Change Mode (chmod)

The change mode chmod command allows sudo to change permissions of a file. In the image above, the user test has rwx (read, write, and execute) permissions since the user test is the owner of the directory directoryforbothusers. However, we still need to give write permissions to the group bothusers as it currently only has r-x (read and execute) permissions so the user anotheruser cannot create files in the directory directoryforbothusers.

We will change permissions with the change mode chmod command. The three numbers correlate to OWNER-GROUP-OTHERS. The numbers and their corresponding permissions can be seen below. Here we are giving read, write, and execute permissions to both the OWNER and GROUP while only giving read and execute permissions to OTHERS.

  • 7: Read, write, and execute.
  • 6: Read and write.
  • 5: Read and execute.
  • 4: Read.
  • 3: Write and execute.
  • 2: Write.
  • 1: Execute.
  • 0: None.

Input:

sudo chmod -R 775 /home/directoryforbothusers/

Output:

Change Mode

Change Mode



Now both users (test and anotheruser) can add files to the directory directoryforbothusers without the sudo command.

Input:

touch file1

Output:

Create File in directoryforbothusers

Create File in directoryforbothusers



The user anotheruser can also create files in the directory directoryforbothusers without the sudo command due to the modified group permissions.

Input:

touch file2

Output:

Create Another File in directoryforbothusers

Create Another File in directoryforbothusers



Now both users can edit each other's files. Below I am deleting file1 which is owned by the user test when I am signed in as the user anotheruser. Since it is owned by the user test, it will ask the user to confirm the deletion.

Input:

rm file1

Output:

Delete Another User's File

Delete Another User's File



Visual Editor (vi)

The visual editor vi is the default text editor in Linux. Enter the command vi FILENAME in order to start editing a file. You will now be in the visual editor and be able to edit the specified file. Start by pressing the letter "i" on your keyboard and the text "-- INSERT --" should now appear at the bottom of the terminal signifying you can begin inserting text. Once done, press the "ESC" key to exit the "-- INSERT --" mode. After you have pressed the "ESC" key, you should be able to type :wq which allows you to write/save (w) and quit (q) the file. Since we are editing a different user's file within a group we have write permissions in, we will need to add the override command (!) such that we write wq!. Hit enter and you should have exited the visual editor. If the ls -lh command is entered, one can see that the file ownership for file1 has changed from user test to user anotheruser.

Input:

vi file1

Output:

Edit Another User's File

Edit Another User's File



Edit Another User's File 2

Edit Another User's File 2



Input:

i

Output:

-- INSERT -- Mode

-- INSERT -- Mode



Input:

This file belongs to the user test which is in the directory directoryforboth that belongs to the group bothusers. The user anotheruser is in the group bothusers which has write permissions in the directory directoryforboth. Thus, the user anotheruser can edit files belonging to the user test in the directory directoryforboth.

Output:

Editing File

Editing File



Input:

"Press the ESC Key"

Output:

ESC Key

ESC Key



Input:

:wq!

Output:

Write and Quit

Write and Quit



Input:

ls -lh

Output:

Change Ownership

Change Ownership