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hi all i am new to linux and also to its terminal window.I know that terminal window is so powerful.but i know a little about its commands.So is their any effective way to learn terminal command on ubuntu.

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Use the terminal for your day-to-day work. Whenever you do something manually, assume there's a command (or a series of commands) for that and google for it. –  Joachim Sauer Jun 21 '10 at 9:41

8 Answers 8

up vote 13 down vote accepted

You could start with this, in your terminal window type the following:

cd /usr/bin
ls | xargs whatis > ~/CommandList.txt

This will give you a file with all the commands in the bin directory and a brief description of what they do. The file will be located in your home directory called CommandList.txt.

Have a look at them. When you see a command that you are interested in type:

man [command]

This will open a manual on the usage of the command.

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+1 for whatis didn't know that command :) –  knittl Jun 21 '10 at 10:10
+1 for such a wonderful command –  BloodPhilia Jun 21 '10 at 18:37
+1 for a self describing command –  Gillfish Dec 20 '13 at 18:44

The best way is to actually USE the terminal. Don't drop to a UI environment when you need to do something - rather do a Google search for the specific task at hand and do it in the terminal.

In the beginning this well mean you spend more time in Google than typing commands. But that is ok; you'll quick learn the basics and feel more confident.

Sorry, there is no real easy way to become a really good terminal user.

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+1 in general, although I disagree with the final sentence. –  JUST MY correct OPINION Jun 21 '10 at 10:01
If you come a GUI background it takes some time and commitment (at first). –  leonm Jun 21 '10 at 10:18

Everybody is telling you to use man. I disagree. man pages are great resources for people who already know what it is they're looking for and only need a refresher on what the specifics for the commands are: the flags, etc. As a pedagogical tool they, not to put too fine a point on this, suck completely. For starters, how are you supposed to call up the right man page? Look at this following exchange and ask what's missing:

Q: How do I find out what files are in my directory?

A: man ls

There's a step missing in between the question and the answer -- the one that links "directory listings" to ls.

In terms of actually learning UNIX (and UNIX-alike) shells and commands, you'd probably be best to pick up one of any number of books on the subject. I can't recommend any in specific, mind, given that I had to learn my shell stuff the hard way (read: the man way, followed by pestering my local friendly UNIX geek)) many years ago before such books were commonplace. Since you mentioned Ubuntu, my guess would be that picking up an Ubuntu-specific book might be a good start. (I don't endorse this book in particular, just as an example of the type of book you could look for. There's other books listed down below on that link that could also be decent as an introduction.) This is only a start, however. You'll eventually have to learn more by using man and friends.

One of those friends in particular, however, is apropos. Consider the question "how do I list my directory?". To get between that question and man ls you can use apropos list --and directory:

$ apropos list --and directory
nm (1)               - list symbols from object files
size (1)             - list section sizes and total size.
chacl (1)            - change the access control list of a file or directory
dir (1)              - list directory contents
File::Listing (3pm)  - parse directory listing
ls (1)               - list directory contents
vdir (1)             - list directory contents

See the various things talking about "list directory contents"? Those are candidates for a man call (including, obviously, man ls). man apropos for full details on how to use that command.

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I tried man woman but got No manual entry for woman. My usual approach is useless here... ;-) –  Johnsyweb Jun 21 '10 at 10:16

The most important command to know is man. It gives access to help pages.

Type man man to discover how man works and man intro to get an introduction to commands.

Other common commands are: ls, cd for navigating through the filesystem, cat to display text files, cp, mv, rm for handling files (copy, move, remove).

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bash has a help command that will list the commands built in to the shell. Those are generally more useful for shell scripts, but they include 'kill', 'export', 'pushd'/'popd', and other commands you may find useful. help pushd to get help specific to the 'pushd' command.

Also take a look in /bin and /usr/bin. A bunch of the programs in those directories are standard stuff, and should have "man pages". man name_of_command to see them. Most of the GNU stuff should have "info pages" too, cause RMS just HAS to do his own thing. info name_of_command to see those.

Also, man -k 'some keyword(s)' may help if you're trying to find a command to do something specific. for instance, man -k 'find files' lists man pages for the "find" and "locate" commands.

And of course, if all else fails, Google is your friend.

Most importantly, once you figure out how to do something, practice doing it. Try to find better ways. Just copying and pasting and such won't help you learn much...it takes getting in there, exploring, trying stuff.

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I always point newcomers here -- it's an excellent guide, I find, and it covers many topics.

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Excellent guide. +1 –  Craig Lowe Jun 25 at 22:57

did you checked a man command? i.e.

man man
man ls
man cd
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This tutorial series starts with basic commands and makes its way up to more advanced topics like the environment, searching, and regular expressions.


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the question is old and already has an accepted answer. please don't disturb old threads –  TD.512 Jun 25 at 22:56

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