50 Common Linux Console Commands You Should Learn By Heart

Posted on 14 October 2008

We have listed below 50 commonly used Linux / Unix commands that we think every geek should learn by heart. These commands are vital for your complete access to Shells and Consoles.  Print them out. Hang them near your monitor. Practice them. Only constant practice will let you retain the usage and utility of all these console commands. Enjoy the list.




  1. clear: Clears the terminal window
  2. ls directory: List contents of a directory
  3. cat filename: Displays the contents of a file in the terminal
  4. rm filename: Removes a file
  5. cp sourcefile detstinationfilename: Copies a file
  6. passwd: Changes password
  7. motd: Message of the Day
  8. finger username: User information lookup program
  9. startx: Starts an X Window System server
  10. less filename or more filename: Displays the contents of a file in the terminal one page at a time

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This post was written by:

R. MAK. - who has written 232 posts on ixibo.

How Should I describe me?... Well! I am a simple dude, who likes to indulge in intelligent conversation with an intelligent people, specially on technology topics hope you are one of them :p

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18 Responses to “50 Common Linux Console Commands You Should Learn By Heart”

  1. Jack9 says:

    motd is useless. I used it once in a class and once when a sysadmin mentioned that he put clever things up as motd. It is truly a utility that should be forgotton. Finger, talk/write/mesg, rcp? who uses that over scp?, cal over date?, startx? I mean if you’re meorizing commands you have x running on a virtual term nowadays. You shouldn’t be putting up obviously misleading guides. We need more DECENT sysadmins, so arm them correctly.

  2. AJ says:

    rlogin/rsh ?

    Those commands are dead. Use slogin/ssh.

    rlogin/rsh should be turned off on any machine that is concerned about security. The same goes for NIS.

  3. jason says:

    uhh… not to mention ‘man’… how exactly did you miss that?

  4. paras wadher says:

    these are simple commands!!!

    i need all commands of linux !!!

    and i know u can !!!

    paras wadhers last blog post..Apple’s Future

  5. Chiron says:

    I have to agree that motd isn’t very useful. finger is no longer of much use, and can represent a security risk. Also, it’s mentioned at #8 and #26.

    rlogin, rcp, and telnet are all outdated. Use ssh, scp, and just forget about telnet altogether – it’s a security hole.

    Someone pointed out that you omitted man. info is about as good, but sometimes there are man pages when there isn’t an info page. I recommend using both.

  6. Takashi says:

    yeah, quite lame, do your homework, buddy.
    it’s 2008

  7. I will still say nice work. Even though the post has generated a lot of harsh comment, it achieves at least one goal.

    It has created an opportunity for newbies to learn what is useful, what is obsolete and what is now deemed risky!

    Nice try. Just do more research. Cheers.

    Naija Businesss last blog post..How To Receive Payment Online

  8. Good for linux users!

  9. luke says:

    The main biggy your are missing is ‘ps’ to view the process table (although you have kill?) – I myself must type ps -ef on average about 25 times a day.

    Also there is ‘su’ – to change user accounts which a sysadmin will use all the time.

    Then there is lsof, nohup, sed and awk etc etc.

    In the 15 years I hve worked with *nix – I have never used motd :) I will try it now.

  10. Marcus says:

    As others have suggested, this list is kind of weak. I would take out these commands: clear (easier to use keyboard shortcut ctrl-L)
    motd, (rarely implemented and when it is it’s usually added to a user’s profile)
    finger, rarely implemented (security issues)
    mesg, write, talk (not much use for them these days but if you needed to send a message to users why not just use wall?)
    who/w are redundant one or the other would suffice but i’d keep w personally
    no need to remember gunzip really since the functionality is in gzip also w/ the -d option
    rlogin,rsh,rcp,telnet (obsolete for quite a while no one in their right mind would use these anymore)

    a couple i would add: fuser, lsof, find, xargs, mount, man(as someone else suggested), an editor (vi emacs nano etc), chown, reset, strings, split,tar, bzip2, and also a working knowledge of redirection <, <<, >>, |, etc.

    i guess there are a lot of commands someone “should learn by heart” (didn’t even touch regex or scripting) but i guess it comes down to the level of proficiency they require.

  11. Marcus says:

    edit: << should be <<<

    also i’d like to add pkill, pgrep, time, watch, and crontab to the list.

  12. Mojah says:

    It’s a very nice list – but as commented already, there are some commands that are long overdue and some other important ones missing.

    It’s still something to bookmark, and poses a nice reference. I didn’t even know about “w”, only “who” – so I still learned a bit :-)

  13. Cam'doloz says:

    It’s a very nice list – but as commented already, there are some commands that are long overdue and some other important ones missing.

    It’s still something to bookmark, and poses a nice reference. I didn’t even know about “w”, only “who” – so I still learned a bit

  14. Mark says:

    How about pwd: print working directory. That’s up there on my list.

  15. centraltech says:

    I think ‘find’ is one of my most used commands especially piping it to ‘exec’ and ‘awk’, I also use ‘screen’ alot

  16. rich says:

    I only counted 10


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