Overview of the most common basic SHELL commands. I typically use PuTTY (a looong time ago), a free telnet and SSH Client for Windows and Unix platforms. It is lightweight and easy to use and doesn’t need installing (can run from a flash disk).

Navigating directories


…change directory, method used for moving from one folder to another.

cd foldername/foldername2

…would take you to foldername2.

cd ..

…moves up one directory.

cd /

…moves you to root.


…prints to console your present working directory – where you currently are.

List contents


…list contents of current directory.

ls -l

…shows long format inc. group owner, size, date modified, permissions.

ls -a

…shows ALL files inc. hidden files.

ls -R

…lists contents of sub directories recursively.

ls -la

…the above options can be used at the same time.

ls -lha

…same as before but with more reader friendly file sizes.

ls foldername/foldername

…list items in folder without actually moving to it.

Creating files and directories/folders

touch file.html

…use the touch command to create files.

rm file.html

…use the rm command to remove a file.

mkdir myfolder

…use the mkdir command to create a new directory/folder.

rmdir myfolder

…use the rmdir command to remove a directory/folder, folder must be empty.

mv folder1/file.html folder2/file.html

…use the mv command to move a file. Can also be used to rename a file.

Compressing and backing up files and folders

zip -r foo.zip foo/

…compress the folder ‘foo’ and all of its contents into a zip file called ‘foo.zip’.

zip foo.zip foo.html

…compress the file’foo.html’ into a zip file called ‘foo.zip’.

File and directory/folder permissions and ownership

chmod 755 file.html

…changes the file.html file permissions, same for a folder.

chmod -r 755 myfolder

…changes permissions for that folder and all folders and files inside it recursively.

Here are the chmod octal numeric values

700: only owner can read
755: everyone can read but not write
775: only group can read and write
770: no-one but group can read
666: everyone can read and write
1777: everyone can read,write,execute

chown user:myself file.html

…changes the ownership of file.html to the user called ‘myself’.

Searching for files by name

find /path/to/file/ -iname filename

Searching for a string within files

grep -R {something_to_look_for} {where_to_look_in}