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Treebeard's Unix Cheat Sheet

People who use Windows without DOS, or a Macintosh, or PPP without a terminal, or an ISP's menu without the Unix prompt are at a disadvantage. Something is happening, and they don't know what it is. I like to know what's really going on, so I've been learning some Unix.

The Net is a Unix place. I'm no wizard, but I'm comfortable with basic commands and occasionally type "rm" at my DOS prompt instead of "del". This is my Unix cheat sheet, so I can remember. Uppercase and lowercase matter. These commands (mostly) work with my C-shell account on RAIN. Your account might be different, especially if your prompt ends with a "$" (Korn shell) rather than a "%", so be cautious. When I need help, I reach for the books UNIX in a Nutshell (O'Reilly) and Unix Unbound by Harley Hahn (Osborne/McGraw Hill, 1994).

This page won't look right without table support. Most of this is available in a text version.

Help on any Unix command. RTFM!
man {command}Type man ls to read the manual for the ls command.
man {command} > {filename}Redirect help to a file to download.
whatis {command}Give short description of command. (Not on RAIN?)
apropos {keyword}Search for all Unix commands that match keyword, eg apropos file. (Not on RAIN?)

List a directory
ls {path}It's ok to combine attributes, eg ls -laF gets a long listing of all files with types.
ls {path_1} {path_2}List both {path_1} and {path_2}.
ls -l {path}Long listing, with date, size and permisions.
ls -a {path}Show all files, including important .dot files that don't otherwise show.
ls -F {path}Show type of each file. "/" = directory, "*" = executable.
ls -R {path}Recursive listing, with all subdirs.
ls {path} > {filename}Redirect directory to a file.
ls {path} | moreShow listing one screen at a time.
dir {path}Useful alias for DOS people, or use with ncftp.

Change to directory
cd {dirname}There must be a space between.
cd ~Go back to home directory, useful if you're lost.
cd ..Go back one directory.
cdupUseful alias, like "cd ..", or use with ncftp.

Make a new directory
mkdir {dirname}

Remove a directory
rmdir {dirname}Only works if {dirname} is empty.
rm -r {dirname}Remove all files and subdirs. Careful!

Print working directory
pwdShow where you are as full path. Useful if you're lost or exploring.

Copy a file or directory
cp {file1} {file2}
cp -r {dir1} {dir2}Recursive, copy directory and all subdirs.
cat {newfile} >> {oldfile}Append newfile to end of oldfile.

Move (or rename) a file
mv {oldfile} {newfile}Moving a file and renaming it are the same thing.
mv {oldname} {newname}

Delete a file
rm {filespec}? and * wildcards work like DOS should. "?" is any character; "*" is any string of characters.
ls {filespec}
rm {filespec}
Good strategy: first list a group to make sure it's what's you think...
...then delete it all at once.

Download with zmodem(Use sx with xmodem.)
sz [-a|b] {filename}-a = ascii, -b = binary. Use binary for everything. (It's the default?)
sz *.zipHandy after downloading with FTP. Go talk to your spouse while it does it's stuff.

Upload with zmodem(Use rx with xmodem.)
rz [-a|b] (filename}Give rz command in Unix, THEN start upload at home. Works fine with multiple files.

View a text file
more {filename}View file one screen at a time.
less {filename}Like more, with extra features.
cat {filename}View file, but it scrolls.
cat {filename} | moreView file one screen at a time.
page {filename}Very handy with ncftp.
pico {filename}Use text editor and don't save.

Edit a text file.
pico {filename}The same editor PINE uses, so you already know it. vi and emacs are also available.

Create a text file.
cat > {filename}Enter your text (multiple lines with enter are ok) and press control-d to save.
pico {filename}Create some text and save it.

Compare two files
diff {file1} {file2}Show the differences.
sdiff {file1} {file2}Show files side by side.

Other text commands
grep '{pattern}' {file}Find regular expression in file.
sort {file1} > {file2}Sort file1 and save as file2.
sort -o {file} {file}Replace file with sorted version.
spell {file}Display misspelled words.
wc {file}Count words in file.

Find files on system
find {filespec}Works with wildcards. Handy for snooping.
find {filespec} > {filename}Redirect find list to file. Can be big!

Make an Alias
alias {name} '{command}'Put the command in 'single quotes'. More useful in your .cshrc file.

Wildcards and Shortcuts
*Match any string of characters, eg page* gets page1, page10, and page.txt.
?Match any single character, eg page? gets page1 and page2, but not page10.
[...]Match any characters in a range, eg page[1-3] gets page1, page2, and page3.
~Short for your home directory, eg cd ~ will take you home, and rm -r ~ will destroy it.
.The current directory.
..One directory up the tree, eg ls ...

Pipes and Redirection(You pipe a command to another command, and redirect it to a file.)
{command} > {file}Redirect output to a file, eg ls > list.txt writes directory to file.
{command} >> {file}Append output to an existing file, eg cat update >> archive adds update to end of archive.
{command} < {file}Get input from a file, eg sort < file.txt
{command} < {file1} > {file2}Get input from file1, and write to file2, eg sort < old.txt > new.txt sorts old.txt and saves as new.txt.
{command} | {command}Pipe one command to another, eg ls | more gets directory and sends it to more to show it one page at a time.

Permissions, important and tricky!
Unix permissions concern who can read a file or directory, write to it, and execute it. Permissions are granted or withheld with a magic 3-digit number. The three digits correspond to the owner (you); the group (?); and the world (everyone else).

Think of each digit as a sum:
execute permission = 1
write permission = 2
write and execute (1+2)= 3
read permission = 4
read and execute (4+1)= 5
read and write (4+2)= 6
read, write and execute (4+2+1)= 7

Add the number value of the permissions you want to grant each group to make a three digit number, one digit each for the owner, the group, and the world. Here are some useful combinations. Try to figure them out!

chmod 600 {filespec}You can read and write; the world can't. Good for files.
chmod 700 {filespec}You can read, write, and execute; the world can't. Good for scripts.
chmod 644 {filespec}You can read and write; the world can only read. Good for web pages.
chmod 755 {filespec}You can read, write, and execute; the world can read and execute. Good for programs you want to share, and your public_html directory.

Permissions, another way
You can also change file permissions with letters:

u = user (yourself) g = group a = everyone
r = read w = write x = execute

chmod u+rw {filespec}Give yourself read and write permission
chmod u+x {filespec}Give yourself execute permission.
chmod a+rw {filespec}Give read and write permission to everyone.

Applications I use
finger {userid}Find out what someone's up to.
ircIRC, but not available on RAIN.
lynxText-based Web browser, fast and lean.
ncftpBetter FTP.
pico {filename}Easy text editor, but limited. vi and emacs are available.
telnet {host}Start Telnet session to another host.
uudecode {filename}
uuencode {filename}
Do it on the server to reduce download size about 1/3.
ytalk {userid}Chat with someone else online, eg ytalk mkummel. Please use w first so you don't interrupt a big download!

System info
dateShow date and time.
dfCheck system disk capacity.
duCheck your disk usage and show bytes in each directory.
more /etc/motdRead message of the day, "motd" is a useful alias..
printenvShow all environmental variables (in C-shell% - use set in Korn shell$).
quota -vCheck your total disk use.
uptimeFind out system load.
wWho's online and what are they doing?

Unix Directory Format

Long listings (ls -l) have this format:

    - file
    d directory,                                            * executable
    ^   symbolic links (?)  file size (bytes)   file name   / directory
    ^           ^               ^                  ^        ^
    drwxr-xr-x 11 mkummel      2560 Mar  7 23:25 public_html/
    -rw-r--r--  1 mkummel     10297 Mar  8 23:42 index.html
     ^^^        user permission  (rwx)      date and time last modified
        ^^^     group permission (rwx)
           ^^^  world permission (rwx)

How to Make an Alias

An alias lets you type something simple and do something complex. It's a shorthand for a command. If you want to type "dir" instead of "ls -l" then type alias dir 'ls -l'. The single quotes tell Unix that the enclosed text is one command.

Aliases are more useful if they're permanent so you don't have to think about them. You can do this by adding the alias to your .cshrc file so they're automatically loaded when you start. Type pico .cshrc and look for the alias section and add what you want. It will be effective when you start. Just remember that if you make an alias with the name of a Unix command, that command will become unavailable.

Here are a few aliases from my .cshrc file:

            # enter your aliases here in the form:
	    # alias     this    means this

            alias       h       history         
            alias       m       more
            alias	q	quota -v
            alias       bye     exit
            alias 	ls 	ls -F
            alias       dir     ls
            alias 	cdup	cd ..
            alias	motd	more /etc/motd

How to Make a Script

A Unix script is a text file of commands that can be executed, like a .bat file in DOS. Unix contains a powerful programming language with loops and variables that I don't really understand. Here's a useful example.

Unix can't rename a bunch of files at once the way DOS can. This is a problem if you develop Web pages on a DOS machine and then upload them to your Unix Server. You might have a bunch of .htm files that you want to rename as .html files, but Unix makes you do it one by one. This is actually not a defect. (It's a feature!) Unix is just being more consistent than DOS. So make a script!

Make a text file (eg with pico) with the following lines. The first line is special. It tells Unix what program or shell should execute the script. Other # lines are comments.

    #! /bin/csh
    # htm2html converts *.htm files to *.html
    foreach f ( *.htm )
      set base=`basename $f .htm`
      mv $f $base.html
Save this in your home directory as htm2html (or whatever). Then make it user-executable by typing chmod 700 htm2html. After this a * will appear by the file name when you ls -F, to show that it's executable. Change to a directory with .htm files and type ~/htm2html, and it will do its stuff.

Think about scripts whenever you find yourself doing the same tedious thing over and over.

Dotfiles (aka Hidden Files)

Dotfile names begin with a "." These files and directories don't show up when you list a directory unless you use the -a option, so they are also called hidden files. Type ls -la in your home directory to see what you have.

Some of these dotfiles are crucial. They initialize your shell and the programs you use, like autoexec.bat in DOS and .ini files in Windows. rc means "run commands". These are all text files that can be edited, but change them at your peril. Make backups first!

Here's some of what I get when I type ls -laF:

.addressbook my email addressbook.
.cshrc my C-shell startup info, important!
.gopherrc my gopher setup.
.history list of past commands.
.login login init, important!
.lynxrc my lynx setup for WWW.
.ncftp/ hidden dir of ncftp stuff.
.newsrc my list of subscribed newsgroups.
.pinerc my pine setup for email.
.plan text appears when I'm fingered, ok to edit.
.profile Korn shell startup info, important!
.project text appears when I'm fingered, ok to edit.
.signature my signature file for mail and news, ok to edit.
.tin/ hidden dir of my tin stuff for usenet.
.ytalkrc my ytalk setup.

DOS and UNIX commands

change directorycdcd
change file protectionattribchmod
compare filescompdiff
copy filecopycp
delete filedelrm
delete directoryrdrmdir
directory listdirls
edit a fileeditpico
find string in filefindgrep
make directorymdmkdir
move filemovemv
rename filerenmv
show date and timedate, timedate
show disk spacechkdskdf
show filetypecat
show file by screenstype filename | moremore
sort datasortsort

Other Unix Links

last modified .

Marc Kummel /