Here is and example of what I'm referring to. The tilde means "/home/usr/", but what does the dot indicate. I know it's not acting as " * " would.
"/." pronounced "Slashdot" is a popular tech news website.
. in a UNIX filesystem context is similar to a "no-op"; it is the "identity" path and refers to the immediately preceding directory (or the current directory if there is nothing preceding it). So
/. is equivalent to
/home/me/. is equivalent to
. by itself is equivalent to the current directory. This has uses in some situations: for example, running
./command runs a program called
command and requires it to be located in the current directory, bypassing the
. as a filename prefix means a hidden file, as @LaurentB said in his answer; however
. by itself cannot be the name of a file. Filenames beginning with
. are not typically shown by
ls or other directory listing programs unless an option is set to view hidden files.
It indicates a hidden file/folder.
Try to list it with
ls -> you won't see it.
ls -a you will.
"~/.cpan/" is a hidden directory ".cpan" in your home directory. "~" is an unix abbreviation for a user's own home directory. ~user_X points to user_X's home directory.