Here are the best Top 5 basic Linux Commands you should know

Are you new to Linux and wondering where to start? It’s important to keep in check with at least the best top 5 basic Linux commands to get you started. Whether you are a beginner or used to desktop Linux distributions like Ubuntu and Linux Mint that offer a Windows-like experience, the top 5 Linux commands listed in this article can help you do most tasks on the distribution.

The commands discussed in this article are essential for navigating and managing files on your Linux system. By practicing these top 5 basic Linux commands, you will be able to execute regular tasks like a professional user.

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Within the wide array of beginner Linux commands, ls, cd, pwd,mkdir, and rm are the top 5 Linux commands you should know as a beginner or intermediate user to carry out terminal operations on your Linux powered system as explained below.

The Top 5 basic Linux commands you need

ls – List

The ls command list the files and directories in your current working directory.  The current working directory is your present cursor position in the file system. By default, it is set to your home directory ~.

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$ ls

When you enter ls in the terminal, a list of all available files and directories display in alphabetical order. The command is essential for navigating and finding files easily, and you can also extend it by showing file sizes as described below.

Long list files with sizes in bytes.

$ ls -l

Long list files with sizes in Megabytes

$ ls -lh

For more information about the ls command, simply read it’s manual by running the following command.

$ man ls

cd – Change Directory

The cd command is used to change your current working directory by switching to a subdirectory, or to your home directory when run without any argument. It helps you switch to any directory on your system. For example, to switch to your Downloads folder, simply run:

$ cd Downloads

Please note that Linux directories and files are case-sensitive, so, Downloads and downloads are interpreted as two separate directories. For clarity, run the following command to switch to the Documents directory if it’s available in your home directory.

$ cd Documents

So, the cd command is important for moving around in the file system and accessing different directories on your Linux system. When you run the command directly as below, it will switch your position to the home directory.

$ cd

For more information about the cd command, view its manual as below:

$ man cd

pwd – Print working directory

pwd displays your current working directory path. It’s a simple yet very essential command that helps you keep track of where you are in the file system. For examole, when you use the cd command, you can switch to different directories. But to know the current path from your main directory, the pwd helps you print the position as below.

$ pwd



The pwd command supports several arguments, to find out more on the command, view its manual as below.

$ man pwd

mkdir – Make directory

If you want to create a new directory or a new subdirectory within a main directory, the mkdir command helps you achieve that. You can either create a directory path away from your current position, or simply add it to your current working directory as below.


$ mkdir [option] directory-name


$ mkdir -p myfiles

To create a directory using a path, run the following command as long as your account has write privileges to the destination directory.

$ mkdir ~/Documents/myfiles/hello-directory

mkdir is a very important command you can use to organizing files and keeping your file system tidy. For more about the mkdir command, view additional info as below.

$ info mkdir

rm – Remove

rm just like the name sounds gets rid of any files and directories you no longer need. Unlike desktop deleting options, when you remove files using the rm command, they are permanently deleted, and you can use the command as below.


$ rm <option> file

Remove a single file. For example hello.txt.

$ rm hello.txt

To remove a directory, use the command recursively with the -r argument as below.

$ rm -r myfiles

To delete everything within your current directory, run the command as below.

$ rm -r *

For more information about the rm command, please view its manual with the following command.

$ man rm


You have learned some of the best top 5 Linux commands every beginner or intermediate user should know. You don’t need to be an expert or developer to use the Linux operating system, you simply need to have commands ready at your finger tips to perform most operations.

To extend your ability, you can use the best Linux commands for system management that entail more commands to automate and execute tasks on your system.

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