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The Official Ubuntu Book, 7th Edition: Welcome to the Command Line

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This chapter explains how the command line will speed up your work and increase your ability to do exactly what you want to do with your computer with greater efficiency.
This chapter is from the book

Chapter 7. Welcome to the Command Line

  • Starting Up the Terminal
  • Getting Started
  • Building Pipelines
  • Running Commands as Superuser
  • Finding Help
  • Moving around the Filesystem
  • Manipulating Files and Folders
  • System Information Commands
  • Searching and Editing Text Files
  • Dealing with Users and Groups
  • Getting Help on the Command Line
  • Searching for Man Files
  • Using Wildcards
  • Executing Multiple Commands
  • Moving to More Advanced Uses of the Command Line

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 serves 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 GUI, so the tools explained in this chapter and other books are absolutely critical to success. And hey, remember to have fun!

Starting Up the Terminal

The terminal can be found by clicking the tooltip or Dash Home icon (Figure 7-1)—it has the Ubuntu symbol on it and should be the first icon found at the top of your Launcher. This opens the Dash, and in the dash, type terminal to find Terminal (Figure 7-2). When it first launches, you will see something similar to what Figure 7-3 shows.

Figure 7-1. The Dash Home icon

Figure 7-2. The Dash with the Terminal search

Figure 7-3. 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 chapter 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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