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

Display the content of text file

Display the first lines of text file

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

Display the last few lines of text file

Display the entire content of text file

  • vi [options] filename (Linux Os linux.png )
  • cat <filename> (Linux Os linux.png )
  • type <filename> (Win Os windows.png )

Display the partial content of large text file page by page

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

Display only certain lines by number

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

  • wc -l <filename> for Linux Os linux.png [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 Os linux.png & Mac Os mac.png to print the newline count of all files on all subdirectories[4]
  • wc -l "$(cygpath -u '<path to file>')" for cygwin on Win Os windows.png ex: wc -l "$(cygpath -u 'c:\Program Files\file.txt')"[5]

Save the console message as text file

Save the Unix manpage as plain text file

Search text in a file

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

Search text in a compressed text file

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

Search text in files[7]

Merge multiple plain text files

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

  • tail -c 1 file.txt on Linux Os linux.png . Parameter "-c number: The location is number bytes." quoted from the commands manual. If the last line is newline, returned result will be empty. Icon exclaim.gif How to check multiple files?

Step 2: Merge the content

  • copy *.txt > bundle.txt or copy file1.txt file2.txt > bundle.txt for Win Os windows.png
  • cat *.txt > bundle.txt or cat file1.txt file2.txt > bundle.txt for Linux Os linux.png [9][10]

Step 3: (optional) Remove the duplicated lines

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

file operation

Find a file by filename

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

Copy & overwrite file

overwrite file without prompt (confirmation): cp command

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

Copy old directory to new directory

  • cp -a old_dir new_dir/ (Linux Os linux.png )[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 Os linux.png ): All files and sub folders under old_dir will copy to the folder new_dir.
  • copy /Y old_dir new_dir/ (Win Os windows.png )[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

  • mv old_folder_name new_folder_name (Linux Os linux.png )[20]
  • mv /path/to/file /path/to/new_folder_name (Linux Os linux.png )
  • rename old_folder_name new_folder_name (Win Os windows.png )[21]

Delete files or directory

delete all files or directory

  • rm -rf /Name_of_directory to delete all files under the 'Name_of_directory (Linux Os linux.png )[22]
  • del Name_of_directory (Win Os windows.png )
    • After executed del Name_of_directory but the empty directory directory_name will be left.
    • Command delete is not available in Win XP
  • rsync
    • Good! 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 Os linux.png )
    • rsync --delete-before -a -H -v --progress --stats /path/to/empty/folder/ /path/to/target_folder_will_be_deleted/ (Linux Os linux.png )[23] un-verified
  • S/FTP to the server and delete selected files

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

  • 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



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


List directory or files / list directory contents

  • ls (Linux Os linux.png ) 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 Os linux.png ) ll = ls -l
  • Print the entire path of files and level-unlimited sub-directories in the current directory. On Win Os windows.png using dir/s/b, and on Linux Os linux.png using find /path/to/files/ -print [33].
  • Good! create ls command in Win Os windows.png 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 Os windows.png is dir /a, and on Mac Os mac.png or Linux Os linux.png is ls -a[35][36].

Verify if a file or a directory exists

  • On Linux Os linux.png : ls /path/to/file or ls -d /path/to/directory/ e.g. ls -d ~/ to list your home directory[37].
  • On Win Os windows.png :
    • 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

  • Linux Os linux.png : pwd print name of working directory. More on pwd.
  • Win Os windows.png : echo %cd% current directory [40]

Change directory to my home directory

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


show ip

  • ifconfig (Linux Os linux.png )[43][44]
  • ipconfig/all (Win Os windows.png )

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

  • ping domain_or_ip (Linux Os linux.png )
  • ping domain_or_ip -t (Win Os windows.png )

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

TRACERT (trace route)

  • traceroute domain_or_ip (Linux Os linux.png ) & Mac Os mac.png
  • tracert domain_or_ip -t (Win Os windows.png )

apache operation

check apache servie is running or not

  • service --status-all | grep -i httpd (Linux Os linux.png [45][46])
  • netstat -npl | grep httpd for Linux Os linux.png [47]
  • netstat -an | find /i "listening" (Win Os windows.png ) 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 Os linux.png & Win Os windows.png ) ex: Linux Os linux.png /usr/local/httpd/bin/httpd -l or Win Os windows.png x:\apache\bin>httpd -l where x:\apache is the installation folder of apache [50]

mysql operation

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

install package

system operation

show current time

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

reboot the system/server

  • reboot (Linux Os linux.png )[58]
  • shutdown -r (Win Os windows.png )[59]

Shutdown system at a specific date time.

OS version

  • lsb_release -a (Linux Os linux.png )[61]
  • ver (Win Os windows.png )[62]

Show the process list & kill the process

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

  1. display the process list
    • top "display Linux tasks" for Linux Os linux.png or
    • top -a or ps aux --sort -rss | more[65] "Sort by memory usage" for Linux Os linux.png
  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]

Search matched text of command output

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

system CPU, memory and disk space usage

CPU usage / system load average

  • Win Os windows.png :
    • 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 Os linux.png & Mac Os mac.png :

Memory usage

  • Win Os windows.png :
    • namespace: ROOT\CIMV2
    • WQL query: SELECT FreePhysicalMemory, TotalVisibleMemorySize FROM Win32_OperatingSystem[71]
    • output example: 21683460 (UInt64, 64 bit Unsigned Integer) unit: KB
    • memory usage = (FreePhysicalMemory * 100) / TotalVisibleMemorySize; unit: %
  • freebsd & Linux Os linux.png :
    • 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 Os mac.png (known as Darwin):
    • command: top -l 1
    • output example: PhysMem: 8017M used (1486M wired), 172M unused.
    • memory usage: 172 / (8017+172); unit: %

hard disk usage

  • df command "disk space usage" for Linux Os linux.png df -h
  • du command "estimate file space usage" of specific folder for Linux Os linux.png du --max-depth=1 -B M /path/to/folder/ | sort -g[72]Output example:
0M      /sys
1M      /tmp
9M      /run
27M     /etc
36M     /root
165M    /boot
1647M   /usr
49287M  /var
51379M  /home
102547M /

Scan the disk

Switch the user account

switch the current user

  • su on Linux Os linux.png switch the current user to super user [74]
  • su - <user name> on Linux Os linux.png switch the current user to another user

prints the current user

  • whoami on Linux Os linux.png & Win Os windows.png "prints the effective user ID"[75][76]

Clean the screen/console

help for command

view the documentation for this command

  • command --help or man command (Linux Os linux.png )
  • command /? (Win Os windows.png )

find the path of an executable

  • which command for Linux Os linux.png & Mac Os mac.png ex: which wc will return the path '/usr/bin/wc'
  • where command for Win Os windows.png version 2003 or 8. ex: where nslookup will return the path 'C:\Windows\System32\nslookup.EXE'[79] Icon exclaim.gif not all DOS command will return the information ex: where cd, where dir. Related page: How to setup my system path

emergency exit

  • ctrl+c or ctrl+break (Linux Os linux.png , Win Os windows.png & Mac Os mac.png )
  • Pause/Break (Linux Os linux.png ) 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

related pages: