Cheat Sheets

Another Linux cheat sheet

General help

[command] –help – gives syntax for using that command
man [command] – brings up the manual page for the command, if it exists
man [command] > file.txt – dumps the manual page(s) for the command into ‘file.txt’
whatis [command] – gives a short description of the command.
help – gives a list of commands (GNU Bash).
help [command] – gives extra information on the commands listed above. Viewing/editing/creating a text file

vi [filename] – opens VI text editor, if the file doesn’t exist, it’ll be created on saving.
(when inside vi)
– using ‘i’ inserts
– pressing ‘escape’ and then ‘:’ goes back to command mode.
– ‘/searchstring’ searchs for ‘searchstring’ using regular expressions.
– ‘:’ followed by ‘w’ writes
– ‘:’ followed by ‘qw’ writes then quits
– ‘:’ followed by ‘q’ quits.
– ‘:’ followed by ‘q!’ quits regardless of whether changes are made.
– ‘:’ followed by ‘z’ undos.
pico [filename] – launches the PICO editor for the filename.
more [filename] – shows one screen’s worth of the file at a time.
less [filename] – similar to more
head [filename] – Shows the first 10 lines of file, or use -n
tail [filename] – Shows the last 10 lines of file, or use -n
cat [filename] | more – works like more, cat concats 2 strings General/System commands

su [user] – changes the login to ‘user’, or to the root if no ‘user’ is given.
date – shows the system date
whoami – tells you who you’re logged in as
uptime – how long the computer has been running, plus other details
w – shows who’s logged on, what they’re doing.
df – how much disk space is left.
du – disk usage by your login, it can also total up directories.
uname -mrs – userful info about the system
uname -a – all details about the system Desktop / X server + client

Switchdesk {manager – gnome, Enlightenment, etc} – Switches your desktop What’s running

ps – what’s running.
ps ax – shows all processes
top – sort of interactive version of ps.
kill [pid] – terminates the named process, which can be name or number or other options.
killall -HUP [command name] – kill a process, running the command specified, by name.
killall -9 [command] – similar to the above
xkill – kills a frozen application in X (gnome,kde etc. desktops), you just click on the frozen app.

File system

ls -la – list all files/directories
dir – simple form of ls
cd [dir] – change directory
cd ~ – go back to the home directory
cdup – similar to using “cd ..”, go up one directory.
pwd – print which directory you’re in.
./[filename] – run the file if it’s executable and in the current directory
rm [filename] – delete a file
rm -R [directory] – delete a directory
mv [oldfilename] [newfilename] – renames the file (or directory)
cp [filename-source] [filename-destination] – copy the file from one place to another
cp -R [dir-source] [dir-destination] – copy a directory an all its subdirectories
mkdir [name] – makes a directory.
cat [sourcefile] >> [destinationfile] – appends sourcefile to the end of destinationfile
df – how much disk space is available, more options available.

– zipping/taring
tar -cvzf mytar.tar.gz sourcefilesordir – creates a new tar file, verbose options on, runs it through gnuzip,f is the filename
tar -xvf mytar.tar.gz destination – extracts a tar file (this example is compressed with gzip), verbosely, f is the filename
gzip fileordir – compresses a file with gzip.
gunzip file.gz – decompresses a file with gzip.
NB gzip only compresses files, it doesn’t collect them into a single file like a tarball does.


locate [filename] – searches the system using an indexed database of files. use updatedb to update the file database
locate [filename] | sort – sorts the files alphabetically
whereis [filename] – locates an application, such as ‘whereis bash’
find [filename] – searches the filesystem as with locate, but without a database so its slower.
find /directory -atime +30 -print – searches for files not used in the past 30 days. Setting up links

ln -s target linkname – creates a symbolic link, like a shortcut to the target directory or filename.
ln target linkname – creates the default hard link. Deleting this will delete the targetted file or directory. Network commands

dig domainname – retrieves information about a domain, such as name servers, mx records
whois domainname – whois info on a domain
finger user – gives info about a user, their group status, but can also be used over a network
netstat -ape – lots of info about whos connected to your machine, what processes are doing what with sockets Piping

Piping to another command is straight forward enough:

locate filename | grep /usr/local > searchresults.txt – searches for filename, runs the results through grep to filter everything without /usr/local in it, and then outputs the results to searchresults.txt

| runs one application via another, and can be used multiple times e.g. cat /usr/group | more | grep root | sort
> creates a new file if once doesn’t already exist, overwrites the contents of the file if it does exist
>> appends to the end of the file, and creates the file if one doesn’t exist.
< sends everything after this to the application, e.g. ./mysql -u bob -p databasename < mysqldump.sql Permissions and directory listing format

groups [username] – shows what groups the user belongs to
id [username] – shows extended information about a user.
finger [user] – give details about a user.
passwd [user] – changes the password for a user, or without the user argument, changes your password.
chsh [user] – changes the shell for a user.
userdel [user] – removes a user from the system, use -r to remove their home directory too.
newgrp [group id] – log into a new group.
useradd -d /home/groupname -g groupname – add a new user with the d being the homedirectory, g the default group they belong to.
groupadd [groupname] – adds a group

Take a look at the users/groups on the system with:

cat /etc/passwd | sort
cat /etc/group | sort

The stuff below is in the man pages also.
The format of passwd is:
password denoted by x (use cat /etc/shadow | sort to list the shadow password file)
uid – user identifier number
gid – group identifier number
misc information such as real name
users home directory
shell for the user

The format of group is:
name of group
password denoted by x (use cat /etc/gshadow | sort to list the shadow group file)
gid – group identifier number
list of additional users assigned to the group

Break down of permissions in a directory listing:
-rw-r–r– 1 mainuser devel 9054 Dec 28 12:42 index.html

The first character indicates whether it is a directory or file (d for directory).
After that, the next 3 (rw-) are owner permissions.
The following 3 (r–) are group permissions
The following 3(r–) are permissions for other users.

After that reads the number of files inside the directory if it’s a directory (which it isn’t so it’s 1) this can also be links to the file, the owner of the file, the group the file belongs to, size in bytes, date and time and then the filename.

Chmod and Chown
Owner,group and other permissions can be r,w,x. Translated into their decimal equivalents (actually octal but…)
owner – read=400,write=200,execute=100
group – read=40,write=20,execute=10
other – read=4,write=2,execute=1

So add them up and you’ve got your user permissions for chmoding:
chmod [mode] fileordirectory – changes the permissions on a file or directory. use -r to recursively change a whole directory and its sub directories.

e.g chmod 755 myfile.txt – changes the permissions on the file to 755 which is : owner read,write,execute; group read,execute; other read,execute.

chown [user:group] fileordirectory – changes the user and group ownership of a file or directory. Use -R to recursively change a whole directory and its sub directories.
chgrp [group] fileordirectory – changes the groupownership of a file or directory. Use -R to recursively change a whole directory and its sub directories.


mysqldump – Dumps a table,database or all databases to a SQL file. Use the –opt argument for best results e.g.
mysqldump -u username -p –opt database > file.sql
mysql – The mySQL query manager. To import/export a database to or from a SQL try:
mysql -u username -p database < file_to_go_in.sql
mysql -u username -p database > file_to_go_to.sql