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The Official Ubuntu Book, 5th Edition: Welcome to the Command Line

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This chapter explains the tools and techniques critical to the successful use of the Ubuntu command line.
This chapter is from the book

One of the most powerful parts of any Ubuntu system is the command line. It can also be one of the most daunting to dive into. It seems there is often little help, and that the commands are not easy to find or figure out. If you are willing to learn, the power of the command line will speed up your work and will be a great education that will serve you for years by increasing your ability to do exactly what you want to do with your computer with greater efficiency.

While the command line is a nice addition to a desktop user's life, it is completely invaluable if you run a server. The Ubuntu server installs without any graphical user interface, so the tools explained in this chapter and other books will be absolutely critical to success. And hey, remember to have fun!

Starting Up the Terminal

The terminal can be found under Accessories > Terminal. When it first launches, you will see something similar to what Figure A-1 shows.

Figure A-1

Figure A-1 The terminal window

You will see a blinking cursor immediately preceded by some letters, and perhaps numbers and symbols, ending with a $. The first word in that string of characters is your username, followed by the @ symbol. After the @, the hostname of your computer is listed, followed by a colon and the name of the directory you are currently in (you always start in your home directory, which is represented by a ~ symbol).

There are many dozens of commands. This appendix presents just a few useful ones in a narrative style to get you started, then lists some more with just a basic description and broken down by category.

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