GNU/Linux Getting started with GNU/Linux File Manipulation


Files and directories (another name for folders) are at the heart of Linux, so being able to create, view, move, and delete them from the command line is very important and quite powerful. These file manipulation commands allow you to perform the same tasks that a graphical file explorer would perform.

Create an empty text file called myFile:

touch myFile

Rename myFile to myFirstFile:

mv myFile myFirstFile 

View the contents of a file:

cat myFirstFile

View the content of a file with pager (one screenful at a time):

less myFirstFile

View the first several lines of a file:

head myFirstFile

View the last several lines of a file:

tail myFirstFile

Edit a file:

vi myFirstFile

See what files are in your current working directory:


Create an empty directory called myFirstDirectory:

mkdir myFirstDirectory

Create multi path directory: (creates two directories, src and myFirstDirectory)

mkdir -p src/myFirstDirectory

Move the file into the directory:

mv myFirstFile myFirstDirectory/

You can also rename the file:

user@linux-computer:~$ mv myFirstFile secondFileName

Change the current working directory to myFirstDirectory:

cd myFirstDirectory

Delete a file:

rm myFirstFile

Move into the parent directory (which is represented as ..):

cd ..

Delete an empty directory:

rmdir myFirstDirectory

Delete a non-empty directory (i.e. contains files and/or other directories):

rm -rf myFirstDirectory

Make note that when deleting directories, that you delete ./ not / that will wipe your whole filesystem.