The File System

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One of the first things people coming from Windows notice about Linux is the different way the drives, directory structure and files are ordered/displayed. Both operating systems use what is called a hierarchial directory structure. All this means is that files are arranged in a tree-like structure with directories containing subdirectories and files, subdirectories containing subsubdirectories and files, etc., branching downward into more complexity like an upside-down tree.

Click on the filenames below to learn about the linux system

|       |     |     |      |      |      |     |     |     |     |      |    |       |     |                                   
/bin   /boot    /dev  /etc    /home   /lib  /media  /mnt   /opt  /root    /sbin    /srv   /tmp   /usr    /var                                  
                    |      |             |                                           |     |
   ------------------      |             +           --------------------------------|     |
   |                -------|             |           |            -------------------|     |
   |                |      |             -           |            |      ------------|     |
   |                |      |             |           |            |      |           |     |         
   |                |      |             +           |            |      |           |     |         
/etc/init.d  /home/usera /home/userb        |      /usr/bin  /usr/include /usr/share  /usr/src    /var/run  
                           |             -                               |
        -------------------|             |                 --------------|
        |                  |             +                 |             |
home/userb/pictures home/userb/Desktop  usb key   /usr/share/doc  /usr/share/man 


One of the major things that people must get used to when switching to Linux is where it stores programs. Windows tends to store most programs in C:/Program Files, and people have a hard time finding their installed programs in Linux because it stores them in many places. These can be grouped into two main groups:
1. The first group contains the system and normal user binary folders. Most applications store their executable binary (similar to an exe) in one of these folders. They are /bin , /usr/bin and /usr/local/bin.
2. The second group is where the "administration" applications are stored. You typically need super user (root) permissions to execute one of these executables. These directories are /sbin and /usr/sbin.
3. Finally, some users prefer to install softare and add-on packages that are not part of the default installation into the /opt directory.


The /proc directory can be considered a figment of your imagination. It is a virtual directory. This directory contains numbered entries that match all of the running processes on the system. Some of these entries can be viewed and some cannot.


The /selinux directory is reserved for Security-enhanced Linux, a high-security system used to limit what computer processes can do within the system.

Lost and Found

The /lost+found directory is where Linux keeps files that have been found after a system crash, or files from a partition that wasn't unmounted before the system shut down. They are located here so that you can try to restore something that might otherwise be lost.


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