Linux Tutorial – The Linux File system


This chapter explains Introduction to Linux file system – Directory tree, Common Directories,  special Directories, Absolute and relative paths.

The Linux File system

● The Linux file system has a tree like structure.

● The tree like structure is also referred to as  the Directory tree 

● When we draw the Linux file system on a paper , we see a tree like structure developing. That’s  why it is called the directory tree.

● A folder is a location that stores multiple files 

● Windows users usually use the word folder instead  of a directory, however , in Linux terminology we  always say a directory instead of a folder.

The Directory Tree

Here are some facts about the directory tree

● Each directory (or file) has exactly one parent

● The first directory (top most) in our directory tree is called the root directory .It is  represented by a forward slash /

● The root directory contains files and  sub directories, which contain more files and  sub directories and so on.

Visualizing the file system

bin opt home tmp var ls pwd chrome earth john david temporary files log files music documents


/  The root directory , 

Where everything begins
 This directory contains system configuration files


This directory contains the commands and utilities that you on a daily basis (All the users have access to it)

 This directory contains programs that performs vital system tasks (Network management , Disk  partitioning).Only the superuser has access to these  programs.

Each user is given a directory under the home directory .A user can store anything in his home  directory Ex:Music files,Pictures, …etc

This directory contains optional commercial software  products that are not installed by default on the  system (Ex: Google Earth)

This directory contains temporary files created by various programs. Generally cleared on reboot

Contains variable data (Ex: databases, spool files, user mail, etc. are located here. )

Common Directories

Two special Directories
● Under each directory , we have two special  directories (1) The current directory represented as .  (2) The parent directory represented as .. 
● and so one dot refers to the current directory and two dots refers to the parent (Previous)  directory.

Absolute and relative paths

● An absolute path begins with the root directory and follows the directory tree branch by branch  until the path to the desired directory or file is  completed. ● Example /home/john/documents/phone.txt is the absolute path of the file phone.txt Notice we use a / to separate between directories.

● A relative path starts from the current working  directory. Example if our current working directory is john then ./documents/phone.txt is relative path of  the file phone.txt

● You can omit the ./ and so documents/phone.txt  also works


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