25 useful commands in Linux/UNIX for Beginners

The (often a bit geeky for this blog) FreeBSD-World website has a good “Top-25″ list of 25 useful commands in Linux/UNIX for Beginners (note: new URL updated 31 Aug 2008)

I’m not sure that #24 (dig) and #25 (host) are absolutely necessary, #18 (startx) is possibly outdated these days, and the compression tools (6-9) are much of a muchness, but apart from that, #1 – #23 should be familiar to anyone who claims to be experienced with UNIX/Linux. If somebody was missing one, it would have to be #18 (startx), as (a) it’s not needed on servers, and (b) modern *nix distros will boot into a GUI automatically when possible.

So what’s the list?
25. host
24. dig
23. mkdir
22. rm
21. cp
20. grep
19. ls
18. startx
17. nano / vi
16. pwd
15. cat
14. man
13. kill
12. locate
11. ifconfig
10. ssh
9. gzip
8. bzip2
7. zip
6. tar (I would put 6-9 in one category, personally. rar should probably be in there too)
5. mount
4. passwd
3. ping
2. tail
1. top

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12 Responses to 25 useful commands in Linux/UNIX for Beginners

  1. Hendra says:

    thank you. I’ve been wandering around to find few command lines I need to learn as Linux newbie. This will save my time a lot

  2. Srinivas says:

    how is find missing in this list




  3. unixshell says:

    Very good point! find is an awesome tool.

    I’ve done a few posts which mention find, but I don’t think I’ve written about find itself.

    I’d like to see sed, awk, tr and bc in there, also.

    I classify host, dig, man, mount, passwd, as sysadmin tools, more than shell features.

  4. joolean says:

    I rarely / never used host, dig, startx, and locate. I’m familiar with the rest of them. Wow, you’re a mind reader, dude… Hehehe… :)

  5. Freshers says:

    Anything related to *nix is just great.
    Good work carry on.

  6. Robsku says:

    Heh, startx outdated… maybe, but I hate it when (rarely as there is never need for reinstalling) I install a new distro on an emty clean partition and then it wont even ask, but makes it boot right into X – daamn, I’ll start my X windows when I feel like it :)

    Good articles, btw…

    any idea if it’s possible to emulate array variables with plain bourne shell? I know arrays work fine on /bin/sh that links to bash and was stunned when I tested the same script on SunOS and realized that there is no support for arrays on sh :x

  7. unixshell says:

    No, plain old Bourne can’t do it :-(

    Bash is part of the Sun supported package set; it’s installed by default on Solaris 10, and part of the Extras CD for 8 and 9.

    Alternatively, you could look at ksh; it supports arrays, and pdksh is normally available on Linux distros too

  8. […] is a great article on *nix Shell detailing 25 top most useful commands for Linux/UNIX […]

  9. sdjf says:

    I would never put tar in the same class as the zip utilities. tar basically creates a simple text file, with human readable content, and does not necessarily compress. The zip utilities compress files and cannot be read without being unzipped.

  10. unixshell says:

    I believe that zip can also create uncompressed files (zip -0), as tar can create compressed files (tar czf). Using gzip compression with a tar file generally creates a smaller tarball than zip with LZW compression.

  11. unixshell says:

    Thanks; link updated.

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