11 important Linux command names explained

Bjorn Krols

Bjorn Krols

Published on
23 March 2022

You can play with these commands by rapidly spinning up an Ubuntu container with Docker.

docker run -it ubuntu bash

cat

Explanation

Name is derived from its function to concatenate files.

Functionality

Display contents of a file:

echo "Hello, World!" >> sample.txt
cat sample.txt

# Hello, World!

Concatenate two text files and write them to a new file:

echo "Hello, " >> a.txt
echo "World!" >> b.txt
cat a.txt b.txt > combined.txt
cat combined.txt

# Hello, World!

cd

Explanation

Stands for "change directory".

Functionality

Change the current working directory.

chmod

Explanation

Stands for "change mode" (permissions of file system objects are sometimes known as modes).

Functionality

Change the access permissions of a file or directory.

compgen

Explanation

Stands for "completion generation".

Functionality

A built-in command for auto-completion in Bash, which is called on pressing TAB key twice.

cp

Explanation

Stands for "copy".

Functionality

Copy files and directories.

echo "Hello, World!" >> sample.txt
cp sample.txt copy.txt
cat copy.txt

# Hello, World!

curl

Explanation

Stands for "client URL".

Functionality

Transfers data from or to a server. Supports most protocols, including HTTP, FTP, and POP3.

curl https://swapi.dev/api/planets/1/

# {"name":"Tatooine"}

Installation instructions.

grep

Explanation

Stands for "global regular expression print".

Functionality

Find patterns in files using regular expressions.

echo "Hello, World!" >> sample.txt
grep "Hello" sample.txt

# [Hello], World!

ls

Explanation

Stands for "list".

Functionality

List directory contents.

man

Explanation

Stands for "manual".

Functionality

Format and display manual pages.

pwd

Explanation

Stands for "print work directory".

Functionality

Print name of current/working directory.

pwd

# /

cd home

# /home

top

Explanation

Stands for "table of processes"

Functionality

Get the information of running tasks, memory, cpu, and swap.

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