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, 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   |    /usr/share/doc  /usr/share/man 
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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 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.

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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