File System Structure

File System Structure

When I first started using Linux, the file system nearly killed me. I cut my baby computer teeth in the DOS-based environment (well … ok … it was actually BASIC) and the layout of Linux directories had me baffled for a while. I’d store a file and immediately it was lost. I had no idea what came “stock” in each directory, or even where to find the most important configuration and system files. The front slash was almost more than I could bear. And “dot” files? Get outta here!

I’ve since come to love the organzation of the Linux file system structure. What got me over the hump was a thorough pokin’ around in the top-level directories. Here’s what I found at the top of the Linux food chain:

  /home

      contains the main user-specific directories – think of this as a “My …” folder

  /usr

      executables and other directories relevant to *all* users

  /tmp

      temporary files

  /etc

      initialization and configuration files

  /dev

      your devices

  /var

      a [var]iety of [var]ious things – log files, mail spools, etc.

  /proc

      running processes

  /root

      ummm … the root file

The top-level directories also contain /opt and /sbin, files that have less relevance to all users. Many of these directories also contain subdirectories. While this is clearly a simplification of these directories and the overall structure, you should be able to dig deeply enough to unmask the Linux file system for the jewel it is.

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