Linux Top 50 Most Used Commands!

Subh Dhungana
5 min readJul 28, 2023

In this article, I’m going to share linux most used commands based on my experience. I’m going too list down the most used commands in unix terminal that I often use it.

Commands name would be listed in this article with its meaning, use case, example and syntax each.

  1. ls
  • Meaning: List files and directories.
  • Uses: Display the contents of a directory.
  • Example: ls /home/user/documents
  • Syntax: ls [options] [directory]

2. cd

  • Meaning: Change the current working directory.
  • Uses: Move between directories.
  • Example: cd /var/log
  • Syntax: cd [directory]

3. pwd

  • Meaning: Print the current working directory.
  • Uses: Display the path of the current directory.
  • Example: pwd
  • Syntax: pwd

4. mkdir

  • Meaning: Make a new directory.
  • Uses: Create a new directory in the current location.
  • Example: mkdir new_directory
  • Syntax: mkdir [directory_name]

5. rmdir

  • Meaning: Remove an empty directory.
  • Uses: Delete a directory that is empty.
  • Example: rmdir empty_directory
  • Syntax: rmdir [directory_name]

6. cp

  • Meaning: Copy files or directories.
  • Uses: Duplicate files or move them to a different location.
  • Example: cp file.txt /destination
  • Syntax: cp [source] [destination]

7. mv

  • Meaning: Move or rename files or directories.
  • Uses: Move files to a different location or rename them.
  • Example: mv file.txt new_file.txt
  • Syntax: mv [source] [destination]

8. rm

  • Meaning: Remove files or directories.
  • Uses: Delete files or directories permanently.
  • Example: rm file.txt
  • Syntax: rm [file]

9. cat

  • Meaning: Concatenate and display file content.
  • Uses: Display the contents of a file.
  • Example: cat file.txt
  • Syntax: cat [file]

10. more

  • Meaning: View file content page by page.
  • Uses: Display large file contents interactively.
  • Example: more big_file.txt
  • Syntax: more [file]

11. less

  • Meaning: View file content with backward navigation.
  • Uses: Display file contents with interactive scrolling and search capabilities.
  • Example: less long_log_file.txt
  • Syntax: less [file]

12. head

  • Meaning: Display the beginning lines of a file.
  • Uses: Show the first few lines of a file.
  • Example: head -n 5 file.txt
  • Syntax: head [options] [file]

13. tail

  • Meaning: Display the last lines of a file.
  • Uses: Show the last few lines of a file (e.g., log files).
  • Example: tail -n 10 log.txt
  • Syntax: tail [options] [file]

14. grep

  • Meaning: Search for patterns in files.
  • Uses: Find specific text patterns in files.
  • Example: grep "error" log.txt
  • Syntax: grep [options] "pattern" [file]

15. find

  • Meaning: Search for files and directories.
  • Uses: Locate files based on various criteria (e.g., name, size, type).
  • Example: find /path/to/search -name "*.txt"
  • Syntax: find [starting_directory] [options] [expression]

16. chmod

  • Meaning: Change file permissions.
  • Uses: Modify file permissions (read, write, execute) for users and groups.
  • Example: chmod 644 file.txt
  • Syntax: chmod [permission] [file]

17. chown

  • Meaning: Change file ownership.
  • Uses: Change the owner and group of a file.
  • Example: chown user:group file.txt
  • Syntax: chown [user]:[group] [file]

18. ps

  • Meaning: Display information about running processes.
  • Uses: Show a list of active processes.
  • Example: ps -ef
  • Syntax: ps [options]

19. top

  • Meaning: Monitor system processes in real-time.
  • Uses: View dynamic process information and system resource usage.
  • Example: top
  • Syntax: top

20. kill

  • Meaning: Terminate a process.
  • Uses: End a running process by sending a signal.
  • Example: kill PID
  • Syntax: kill [signal] [PID]

21. ping

  • Meaning: Test network connectivity to a host.
  • Uses: Check if a remote host is reachable.
  • Example: ping google.com
  • Syntax: ping [host]

22. ifconfig

  • Meaning: Configure network interfaces (deprecated in some systems).
  • Uses: Display and configure network interface settings.
  • Example: ifconfig eth0 up
  • Syntax: ifconfig [interface] [options]

23. ip

  • Meaning: Configure network interfaces (modern replacement for ifconfig).
  • Uses: Manage and display network interface information.
  • Example: ip addr show
  • Syntax: ip [options] [object] [command]

24. ssh

  • Meaning: Securely connect to a remote server.
  • Uses: Establish a secure shell connection to a remote host.
  • Example: ssh user@remote_host
  • Syntax: ssh [user]@[host]

25. scp

  • Meaning: Securely copy files between local and remote hosts.
  • Uses: Transfer files securely between two hosts.
  • Example: scp file.txt user@remote_host:/path
  • Syntax: scp [options] [source] [user]@[host]:[destination]

26. tar

  • Meaning: Archive files into a tarball.
  • Uses: Compress multiple files and directories into a single archive file.
  • Example: tar -cvzf archive.tar.gz files/
  • Syntax: tar [options] [archive_file] [files/directories]

27. untar

  • Meaning: Extract files from a tarball.
  • Uses: Decompress and extract files from a tarball archive.
  • Example: tar -xvzf archive.tar.gz
  • Syntax: tar [options] [archive_file]

28. zip

  • Meaning: Create a zip archive.
  • Uses: Compress files and directories into a zip file.
  • Example: zip archive.zip files/
  • Syntax: zip [options] [archive_name] [files/directories]

29. unzip

  • Meaning: Extract files from a zip archive.
  • Uses: Decompress and extract files from a zip archive.
  • Example: unzip archive.zip
  • Syntax: unzip [options] [archive_file]

30. df

  • Meaning: Display disk space usage of file systems.
  • Uses: Show the disk space usage of all mounted file systems.
  • Example: df -h
  • Syntax: df [options]

31. du

  • Meaning: Estimate file and directory space usage.
  • Uses: Calculate the size of files and directories.
  • Example: du -sh directory/
  • Syntax: du [options] [file/directory]

32. free

  • Meaning: Display system memory usage.
  • Uses: Show the system’s free and used memory.
  • Example: free -h
  • Syntax: free [options]

33. uptime

  • Meaning: Display the system’s uptime.
  • Uses: Show how long the system has been running.
  • Example: uptime
  • Syntax: uptime

34. date

  • Meaning: Display or set the system date and time.
  • Uses: View or set the current date and time.
  • Example: date
  • Syntax: date [options]

35. cal

  • Meaning: Display the calendar.
  • Uses: Show the current month’s calendar.
  • Example: cal
  • Syntax: cal [options]

36. history

  • Meaning: Display command history.
  • Uses: Show a list of previously executed commands.
  • Example: history
  • Syntax: history [options]

37. man

  • Meaning: Display the manual page for a command.
  • Uses: Get detailed documentation for a command.
  • Example: man ls
  • Syntax: man [command]

38. alias

  • Meaning: Create a custom command alias.
  • Uses: Set a shortcut for frequently used commands.
  • Example: alias ll='ls -l'
  • Syntax: alias [alias_name]='[command_with_options]'

39. echo

  • Meaning: Display a message.
  • Uses: Output a message or variable value.
  • Example: echo "Hello, World!"
  • Syntax: echo [message]

40. wc

  • Meaning: Count lines, words, and characters in a file.
  • Uses: Calculate the number of lines, words, and characters in a file.
  • Example: wc file.txt
  • Syntax: wc [options] [file]

41. cut

  • Meaning: Remove sections from each line of a file.
  • Uses: Extract specific columns from a file.
  • Example: cut -d',' -f2 file.csv
  • Syntax: cut [options] [file]

42. sort

  • Meaning: Sort lines of text files.
  • Uses: Arrange lines in alphabetical or numerical order.
  • Example: sort file.txt
  • Syntax: sort [options] [file]

43. grep

  • Meaning: Search for patterns in files.
  • Uses: Find specific text patterns in files.
  • Example: grep "error" log.txt
  • Syntax: grep [options] "pattern" [file]

44. find

  • Meaning: Search for files and directories.
  • Uses: Locate files based on various criteria (e.g., name, size, type).
  • Example: find /path/to/search -name "*.txt"
  • Syntax: find [starting_directory] [options] [expression]

45. wc

  • Meaning: Count lines, words, and characters in a file.
  • Uses: Calculate the number of lines, words, and characters in a file.
  • Example: wc file.txt
  • Syntax: wc [options] [file]

46. grep

  • Meaning: Search for patterns in files.
  • Uses: Find specific text patterns in files.
  • Example: grep "error" log.txt
  • Syntax: grep [options] "pattern" [file]

47. find

  • Meaning: Search for files and directories.
  • Uses: Locate files based on various criteria (e.g., name, size, type).
  • Example: find /path/to/search -name "*.txt"
  • Syntax: find [starting_directory] [options] [expression]

48. chmod

  • Meaning: Change file permissions.
  • Uses: Modify file permissions (read, write, execute) for users and groups.
  • Example: chmod 644 file.txt
  • Syntax: chmod [permission] [file]

49. chown

  • Meaning: Change file ownership.
  • Uses: Change the owner and group of a file.
  • Example: chown user:group file.txt
  • Syntax: chown [user]:[group] [file]

50. ps

  • Meaning: Display information about running processes.
  • Uses: Show a list of active processes.
  • Example: ps -ef
  • Syntax: ps [options]

Thank You For Reading!

By Shubham Dhungana

Cyber Security Researcher

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Subh Dhungana

Security Analyst, Penetration Tester, Bug Bounty Hunter | Offensive, Red Team, VAPT