Alternative Linux commands

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(1) alternative Linux commands to complete the same task, (2) The equivalent or similar commands between Windows and Linux system.

Owl icon.jpg Help for command:
Linux Os linux.png or Mac Os mac.png : Type command_name --help or man command_name  ;
Win Os windows.png : Type command_name /? "Open Source tools Cygwin which provide functionality similar to a Linux distribution on Windows"


Text file manipulation[edit]

Display the content of text file[edit]

Display the first lines of text file[edit]

  • head [options] filename (OS: Linux   )
  • vi [options] filename (and press gg) (Linux   )
  • vim [options] filename (and press gg) (Linux   ); Open file and press gg for gVim (Win   )

Display the last few lines of text file[edit]

Display the entire content of text file[edit]

  • vi [options] filename (Linux   )
  • cat <filename> (Linux   )
  • type <filename> (Win   )

Display the partial content of large text file page by page[edit]

  • cat <filename> | less (Linux   or Cygwin on Win   )   Chinese issue[1]
  • type <filename> | more (Win   ) If the file was encoded in UTF-8, you need to key in chcp 65001 first [2].

Display only certain lines by number[edit]

text processing - With the Linux "cat" command, how do I show only certain lines by number - Unix & Linux Stack Exchange

Newline count (count the number of lines of a file), word count[edit]

  • wc -l <filename> for Linux   [3] ex: wc -l *.txt to print the newline count of txt files of the current folder
  • find . -type f -exec cat {} + | wc -l for Linux   & Mac   to print the newline count of all files on all subdirectories[4]
  • wc -l "$(cygpath -u '<path to file>')" for cygwin on Win   ex: wc -l "$(cygpath -u 'c:\Program Files\file.txt')"[5]

  linux - wc -l is NOT counting last of the file if it does not have end of line character - Stack Overflow

Save the console message as text file[edit]

Save the Unix manpage as plain text file

Search text in a file[edit]

  • grep command for multiple files: grep -ir "string to search" /path/to/directory or grep keyword /path/to/file (Linux   )
  • vim: (1)vim [options] filename (2)press /keyword (Linux   )
  • cat & grep: cat /path/to/file | grep keyword (Linux   ) keyword is case sensitive

Search text in a compressed text file

  • zcat & grep: cat /path/to/compressed_text.gz | grep keyword (Linux   )[6]

Search text in files[7]

Merge multiple plain text files[edit]

Step 1: check the last line of text file is newline[8]

Step 2: Merge the content

  • copy *.txt > bundle.txt or copy file1.txt file2.txt > bundle.txt on Win  
  • cat *.txt > bundle.txt or cat file1.txt file2.txt > bundle.txt on Linux   [9][10]

Step 3: (optional) Remove the duplicated lines

  • sort -us -o bundle_unique.txt bundle.txt[11] OS: Linux   , cygwin of Win   "-u means Unique keys; -s means stable sort; -o means output" quoted from sort manual.

File operation[edit]

Find a file by filename[edit]

  •   locate command (Linux   ) ex: locate filename to locate the filename quickly. [12]
  • find command (Linux   ) ex: sudo find / -iname filename Find the case-insensitive file name Under the path / (root folder) [13]
  • dir command (Win   ) ex: dir /s filename [14][15]   I have no idea to specify the file path to find the file.

Copy & overwrite file[edit]

overwrite file without prompt (confirmation): cp command

  • cp -f to_be_copy.file to_be_overwrote.file (Linux   )[16]
  • /bin/cp -f to_be_copy.file to_be_overwrote.file (Linux   )

Copy old directory to new directory[edit]

  • cp -a old_dir new_dir/ or cp -a old_dir/ new_dir/ (Linux   )[17][18]
    • If the folder new_dir exists already, system will create the folder old_dir and all files and sub folders under old_dir will copy to the path new_dir/old_dir.
    • If the folder new_dir NOT exists, all files and sub folders under old_dir will copy to the folder new_dir.
  • cp -a old_dir/* new_dir/ (Linux   ): All files and sub folders under old_dir will copy to the folder new_dir.
  • copy /Y old_dir new_dir/ (Win   )[19]
  • make new directory & copy all old files to new directory
    • mkdir new_dir
    • cp old_dir/* new_dir
  • How to move all files in current folder to subfolder? - Ask Ubuntu

Rename (move) files or directory[edit]

  • mv old_folder_name new_folder_name (Linux   )[20]
  • mv /path/to/file /path/to/new_folder_name (Linux   )
  • rename old_folder_name new_folder_name (Win   )[21]

Delete files or directory[edit]

delete all files or directory

  • rm -rf /Name_of_directory to delete all files under the 'Name_of_directory (Linux   )[22]
  • del Name_of_directory (Win   )
    • After executed del Name_of_directory but the empty directory directory_name will be left.
    • Command delete is not available in Win XP
  • rsync
    •   quick for many small files (1) create a empty folder ex: mkdit /path/to/source (2) To empty the target folder, keyin rsync -avP --delete /path/to/source/ /path/to/target/ (Linux   )
    • rsync --delete-before -a -H -v --progress --stats /path/to/empty/folder/ /path/to/target_folder_will_be_deleted/ (Linux   )[23] un-verified
  • Using SFTP/FTP to connection to the server and delete selected files.   It may costs too much time if there are many files or sub folders!

Delete the files which their file name were matched with the naming rule when the number of files is too many.

  • find . -name 'naming_rule' -delete or find . -name 'naming_rule' -type f -delete [24][25][26]

Download file from remote server[edit]

  • FTP
  • wget (with progress bar): wget
  • SVN update: svn up http://remote.svn.server/path/ /local/path/ --username=your_account and key in your SVN password [27]
  • more on File transfer methods

File compression and decompression[edit]



  • gunzip -c big.file.gz > big.file(Linux   ) keep the gz file[29]
  • gzip -d big.file.gz(Linux   ) NOT keep the gz file


List directory or files / list directory contents[edit]

  • ls (Linux   ) ls - list directory contents
    • List detailed information of files. e.g. ls -lh[30] [31]
    • List detailed information of files and sort by modification time. ls -lht
    • List top N files and sort by modification time. ls -lht | head -N e.g. ls -lht | head -10 First line is the total file size of specified folder.[32]
  • ll (Linux   ) ll = ls -l
  • Print the entire path of files and level-unlimited sub-directories in the current directory. On Win   using dir/s/b, and on Linux   using find /path/to/files/ -print [33].
  •   create ls command in Win   command prompt: echo dir %1 > %systemroot%\system32\ls.bat Thanks, hmjd![34]
  • List all files and directories including hidden ones in the current directory. On Win   is dir /a, and on Mac   or Linux   is ls -a[35][36].

Verify if a file or a directory exists

  • On Linux   : ls /path/to/file or ls -d /path/to/directory/ e.g. ls -d ~/ to list your home directory[37].
  • On Win   :
    • dir C:\path\to\file or dir C:\path\to\directory\
    • IF EXIST [38][39]
SET a=C:\path\to\file
REM -- If the directory was separated the \ symbol & the path NOT contains space

SET a="C:\path\to\directory contains space\space"
REM -- If the directory was separated the \ symbol & the path contains space

SET a=C:/path/to/file
REM -- If the directory was separated the / symbol, the next command replace / with \ symbol.
SET a=%a:/=\%


SET a = C:\path\to\file
REM -- Correct command: SET a=C:\path\to\file
REM -- the returned result will not correct!

Print the current directory / where am i[edit]

  • Linux   : pwd print name of working directory. More on pwd.
  • Win   : cd or echo %cd% to print current directory [40]

Change directory to my home directory[edit]

  • cd ~/ or cd $HOME (Linux   ) will switch to my home directory ex: /Users/ACCOUNT[41]
  • cd %UserProfile% (Win   ) will switch to my home directory ex: C:\Users\ACCOUNT more on MS_Windows_Explorer[42]


show ip

ping   You may got no response if the server was disabled the ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) response.

  • ping domain_or_ip (Linux   )
  • ping domain_or_ip -t (Win   )

whois: search the information of domain (related: Domain Name Register)

TRACERT (trace route)

  • traceroute domain_or_ip (Linux   ) & Mac  
  • tracert domain_or_ip -t (Win   )

apache operation[edit]

check apache servie is running or not

  • service --status-all | grep -i httpd (Linux   [45][46])
  • netstat -npl | grep httpd for Linux   [47]
  • netstat -an | find /i "listening" (Win   ) find the local open ports & find local address TCP is listening[48]
  • more on connection test...

Where is apache installed?[49]

  • cat /etc/rc.d/rc.local if the apache service is already launched

check which mpm (multi processing module) apache is running

  • httpd -l (Linux   & Win   ) ex: Linux   /usr/local/httpd/bin/httpd -l or Win   x:\apache\bin>httpd -l where x:\apache is the installation folder of apache [50]

mysql operation[edit]

MySQL commands: 1. Exporting data into MySql sql file & 2. Importing data from MySql sql file

install package[edit]

system operation[edit]

show current time[edit]

  • date (Linux   ) output the system date: Thu Oct 25 15:05:10 CST 2012 [53][54]
  • TZ=Asia/Taipei date (Linux   ) output the time from the Taipei/CST timezone [55]
  • date/t (Win   ) (parameter: /t will not ask you to change the current date)
OS in English: Thu 05/03/2012
OS in Mandarin Chinese (XP): 2012/05/03 星期四
OS in Mandarin Chinese (Windows 8, 10): 2014/07/01 週二
  • prompt $d $t $_$P$G (Win   [56])
OS in Mandarin Chinese (Windows 10): 2017/02/03 週五 15:35:31.61

specify the location where Linux or MS-DOS looks when using a command[edit]

reboot the system/server[edit]

Shutdown system at a specific date time.

OS version[edit]

Show the process list & kill the process[edit]

Show the process list & kill the high-resource-consumption process[63][64]

  1. display the process list
    • top "display Linux tasks" for Linux   or
    • top -a or ps aux --sort -rss | more[65] "Sort by memory usage" for Linux  
  2. keyin q to leave the process list
  3. find which process to be killed. And then keyin:
    • kill <PID> or kill -<PID> PID. To kill the process with PID number: 101, enter kill 101. [66]
    • kill -9 <PID>. Force to kill the process with PID number: 101, enter kill -9 101. [67]

Find process running on port[edit]

Find process running on port

Search and extract string from command output[edit]

  • linux command | awk '/string/' (Linux   )[68] ex:
    • keyin dpkg --get-selections | awk '/tar/' to search the installed package naming tar for Ubuntu.[69]
    • keyin dpkg --get-selections | awk '/zip|unzip/' to search the installed package naming zip or unzip for Ubuntu.
  • linux command | grep string (Linux   ) ex: keyin yum list installed | grep tar to search the installed package naming tar for CentOS.[70]
  • Windows command | find "string" (Win   ) ex: netstat -a | find "3306" (note: enclose string in double quotation marks)[71]

System CPU usage[edit]

CPU usage / system load average

  • Win   :
    • namespace: ROOT\CIMV2
    • WQL query: SELECT LoadPercentage FROM Win32_Processor; No need to divid by CPU cores number for Win8
    • output example: 24 (UInt16, 16 bit Unsigned Integer) unit: %
    • CPU usage = LoadPercentage; unit: %
  • freebsd, Linux   & Mac   :

System memory usage[edit]

Memory usage

  • Win   :
    • namespace: ROOT\CIMV2
    • WQL query: SELECT FreePhysicalMemory, TotalVisibleMemorySize FROM Win32_OperatingSystem[72]
    • output example: 21683460 (UInt64, 64 bit Unsigned Integer) unit: KB
    • memory usage = (FreePhysicalMemory * 100) / TotalVisibleMemorySize; unit: %
  • freebsd & Linux   :
    • command: free
    • output example:
                               total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
                    Mem:       8060416    7922496     137920        120     183608     526180
                    -/+ buffers/cache:    7212708     847708
                    Swap:      4194300    1219364    2974936
    • memory usage = 7922496 / 8060416; unit: %
  • Mac   (known as Darwin):
    • command: top -l 1
    • output example: PhysMem: 8017M used (1486M wired), 172M unused.
    • memory usage: 172 / (8017+172); unit: %

System disk space usage[edit]

hard disk usage

  • df command "disk space usage" for Linux   df -h
  • du command "estimate file space usage" of specific folder for Linux  
    • du -h /path/to/folder/ Detailed output of hard disk usage of specific folder and child folders.
    • du -hcs /path/to/folder/ Brief output of total hard disk usage.
    • du --max-depth=1 -B M /path/to/folder/ | sort -g[73]Output example:
0M      /sys
1M      /tmp
9M      /run
27M     /etc
36M     /root
165M    /boot
1647M   /usr
49287M  /var
51379M  /home
102547M /

How To Find Largest Top 10 Files and Directories On Linux / UNIX / BSD - nixCraft   It may costs time to return the result if there are too many file under the specified path. Output example of du -a -BM /path/to/folder/ | sort -n -r | head -n 10:

# du -a -BM /var/ | sort -n -r | head -n 10
11199M  /var/
10384M  /var/lib
6336M   /var/lib/mysql
3714M   /var/lib/strong-pm
3661M   /var/lib/strong-pm/svc
2042M   /var/lib/strong-pm/svc/1/work
2042M   /var/lib/strong-pm/svc/1
1619M   /var/lib/strong-pm/svc/2/work

Options cited from the content of Linux man page[74]

  • -a, --all "write counts for all files, not just directories"
  • -B, --block-size=SIZE "scale sizes by SIZE before printing them"

Scan the disk[edit]

Switch the user account[edit]

switch the current user

  • su on Linux   switch the current user to super user [76]
  • su - <user name> on Linux   switch the current user to another user

prints the current user

  • whoami on Linux   & Win   "prints the effective user ID"[77][78]

Clean the screen/console[edit]

help for command[edit]

view the documentation for this command[edit]

  • command --help or man command (Linux   )
  • command /? (Win   )

find the path of an executable[edit]

  • which command for Linux   ex: which wc will return the path '/usr/bin/wc'
  • which command or where command for Mac   ex: which wc will return the path '/usr/bin/wc'
  • where command for Win   version 2003 or 8. ex: where nslookup will return the path 'C:\Windows\System32\nslookup.EXE'[81]   not all DOS command will return the information ex: where cd, where dir. Related page: How to setup my system path

emergency exit[edit]

  • ctrl+c or ctrl+break (Linux   , Win   & Mac   )
  • Pause/Break (Linux   ) ex: I pressed the key to leave from the warning message "Vim: Warning: Output is not to a terminal".


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further reading[edit]