Some basic linux information

Useful Files

  • /boot/vmlinuz – the typical location and name of the Linux kernel. In the Slackware distribution, the kernel is located at /vmlinuz.
  • /dev/fd0 – first floppy disk drive
  • /dev/fd0H1440 – driver for the first floppy drive in high density mode. Generally, this is invoked when formatting a floppy drive for a particular density. Slackware comes with drivers that allow for formatting a 3.5″ diskette with up to 1.7MB of space. Red Hat and Mandrake do not contain these device driver files by default.
  • /dev/fd1 – second floppy disk drive
  • /dev/hda – first IDE hard drive
  • /dev/hdc – on many machines, the IDE cdrom drive. Most often, there is a symbolic link called /dev/cdrom which is just a link to the true cdrom driver file.
  • /dev/null – used when you want to send output into oblivion
  • /etc/aliases – file containing aliases used by sendmail and other MTAs (mail transport agents). After updating this file, it is necessary to run the newaliases utility for the changes to be passed to sendmail.
  • etc/bashrc – system-wide default functions and aliases for the bash shell
  • etc/conf.modules – aliases and options for configurable modules
  • /etc/crontab – shell script to run different commands periodically (hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, etc.)
  • /etc/DIR_COLORS – used to store colors for different file types when using ls command. The dircolors command uses this file when there is not a .dir_colors file in the user’s home directory. Used in conjunction with the eval command (see below).
  • /etc/exports – specifies hosts to which file systems can be exported using NFS. Man exports contains information on how to set up this file for remote users.
  • /etc/fstab – contains information on partitions and filesystems used by system to mount different partitions and devices on the directory tree
  • /etc/HOSTNAME – stores the name of the host computer
  • /etc/hosts – contains a list of host names and absolute IP addresses.
  • /etc/hosts.allow – hosts allowed (by the tcpd daemon) to access Internet services
  • /etc/hosts.deny – hosts forbidden (by the tcpd daemon) to access Internet services
  • /etc/group – similar to /etc/passwd but for groups
  • /etc/inetd.conf – configures the inetd daemon to tell it what TCP/IP services to provide (which daemons to load at boot time). A good start to securing a Linux box is to turn off these services unless they are necessary.
  • /etc/inittab – runs different programs and processes on startup. This is typically the program which is responsible for, among other things, setting the default runlevel, running the rc.sysinit script contained in /etc/rc.d, setting up virtual login terminals, bringing down the system in an orderly fashion in response to [Ctrl][Alt][Del], running the rc script in /etc/rc.d, and running xdm for a graphical login prompt (only if the default runlevel is set for a graphical login).
  • /etc/issue – pre-login message. This is often overwitten by the /etc/rc.d/rc.S script (in Slackware) or by the /etc/rc.d/rc.local script (in Mandrake and Red Hat, and perhaps other rpm-based distributions). The relevant lines should be commented out (or changed) in these scripts if a custom pre-login message is desired.
  • /etc/lilo.conf – configuration file for lilo boot loader
  • /etc/motd – message of the day file, printed immediately after login. This is often overwritten by /etc/rc.d/rc.S (Slackware) or /etc/rc.d/rc.local (Mandrake/Red Hat) on startup. See the remarks in connection with /etc/issue.
  • /etc/mtab – shows currently mounted devices and partitions and their status
  • /etc/passwd – contains passwords and other information concerning users who are registered to use the system. For obvious security reasons, this is readable only by root. It can be modified by root directly, but it is preferable to use a configuration utility such as passwd to make the changes. A corrupt /etc/passwd file can easily render a Linux box unusable.
  • /etc/printcap – shows the setup of printers
  • /etc/profile – sets system-wide defaults for bash shell. It is this file in Slackware that sets up the DIR_COLORS environment variable for the color ls command. Also sets up other system-wide environment variables.
  • /etc/resolv.conf – contains a list of domain name servers used by the local machine
  • /etc/security – contains a list of terminals on which root can login. For security reasons, this should not include dialup terminals.
  • /etc/termcap – ASCII database defining the capabilities and characteristics of different consoles, terminals, and printers
  • /etc/X11/XF86Config – X configuration file. The location in Slackware is /etc/XF86Config.
  • /proc/cpuinfo – cpu information
  • /proc/filesystems – prints filesystems currently in use
  • /proc/interrupts – prints interrupts currently in use
  • /proc/ioports – contains a list of the i/o addresses used by various devices connected to the computer
  • proc/kcore – The command ls -l /proc/kcore will give the amount of RAM on the computer. It’s also possible to use the free command to get the same information (and more).
  • /proc/version – prints Linux version and other info
  • /var/log/messages – used by syslog daemon to store kernel boot-time messages
  • /var/log/lastlog – used by system to store information about last boot
  • /var/log/wtmp – contains binary data indicating login times and duration for each user on system

Important Directories

  • /bin – essential UNIX commands such as ls, etc. Should contain all binaries needed to boot the system or run it in single-user mode
  • /boot – files used during booting and possibly the kernel itself are stored here
  • /dev – contains device files for various devices on system
  • /etc – files used by subsystems such as networking, NFS, and mail. Includes tables of disks to mount, processes to run on startup, etc.
  • /etc/profile.d – contains scripts that are run by /etc/profile upon login.
  • /etc/rc.d – contains a number of shell scripts that are run on bootup at different run levels. There is also typically an rc.inet1 script to set up networking (in Slackwar), an rc.modules script to load modular device drivers, and an rc.local script that can be edited to run commands desired by the administrator, along the lines of autoexec.bat in DOS.
  • /etc/rc.d/init.d – contains most of the initialization scripts themselves on an rpm-based system.
  • /etc/rc.d/rc*.d – where “*” is a number corresponding to the default run level. Contains files for services to be started and stopped at that run level. On rpm-based systems, these files are symbolic links to the initialization scripts themselves, which are in /etc/rc.d/init.d.
  • /etc/skel – directory containing several example or skeleton initialization shells. Often contains subdirectories and files used to populate a new user’s home directory.
  • etc/X11 – configuration files for the X Window system
  • /home – home directories of individual users
  • /lib – standard shared library files
  • /lib/modules – modular device driver files, most with .o extensions
  • /mnt – typical mount point for many user-mountable devices such as floppy drives, cd-rom readers, etc. Each device is mounted on a subdirectory of /mnt.
  • /proc – virtual file system that provides a number of system statistics
  • /root – home directory for root
  • /sbin – location of binaries used for system administration, configuration, and monitoring
  • /tmp – directory specifically designed for programs and users to store temporary files.
  • /usr – directory containing a number of subdirectory with programs, libraries, documentation, etc.
  • /usr/bin – contains most user commands. Should not contain binaries necessary for booting the system, which go in /bin. The /bin directory is generally located on the same disk partition as /, which is mounted in read-only mode during the boot process. Other filesystems are only mounted at a later stage during startup, so putting binaries essential for boot here is not a good idea.
  • /usr/bin/X11 – most often a symbolic link to /usr/X11R6/bin, which contains executable binaries related to the X Window system
  • /usr/doc – location of miscellaneous documentation, and the main location of program documentation files under Slackware
  • /usr/include – standard location of include files used in C programs such as stdio.h
  • /usr/info – primary location of the GNU info system files
  • /usr/lib – standard library files such as libc.a. Searched by the linker when programs are compiled.
  • /usr/lib/X11 – X Window system distribution
  • /usr/local/bin – yet another place to look for common executables
  • /usr/man – location of manual page files
  • /usr/sbin – other commands used by superuser for system administration
  • /usr/share – contains subdirectories where many installed programs have configuration, setup and auxiliary files
  • /usr/share/doc – location of program documentation files under Mandrake and Red Hat
  • /usr/src – location of source programs used to build system. Source code for programs of all types are often unpacked in this directory.
  • /usr/src/linux – often a symbolic link to a subdirectory whose name corresponds to the exact version of the Linux kernel that is running. Contains the kernel sources.
  • /var – administrative files such as log files, used by various utilities
  • /var/log/packages – contains files, each of which has detailed information on an installed package in Slackware. The same file can also be found at /var/adm/packages, since the adm subdirectory is a symbolic link to log. Each package file contains a short description plus a list of all installed files.
  • /var/log/scripts – package installation scripts in Slackware are stored here. You can inspect these scripts to see what special features are included in individual packages.
  • /var/spool – temporary storage for files being printed, mail that has not yet been picked up, etc.

About Suraj Chhetry

Software developer
This entry was posted in Linux. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Some basic linux information

  1. Kimberly says:

    Much appreciated for the information and share!

  2. Carmen says:

    Thanks for the share! Very useful info, looking to communicate!

    Webmaster of best mattress

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