If you are new to linux, there a some new ways of working, and a bit of jargon that you need to understand.

You can find a lot of details and examples here - it is worth working through it when you have time.

Below are ome basics to get you started.

Command Line

Rather than clicking on options in a GUI (graphical user interface), you type commands at the command line, within a terminal window. The command line doesn't support dragging and dropping.

The terminal window is usually a black window with white writing.  If you don't like the colour of the terminal - you can change it.

If you need to use a GUI on ADA (eg matlab, stata, gview) - you will need to open an interactive session and then type the command to open the GUI.


Basic commands

  • Files are held within directories (also known as folders). 
  • You can have a hierachy of directories, and sub directories, starting with your home directory.
  • Your home directory location (pathway) is referred to as ~/
  • the address of a file or folder is called its pathway - eg ~/test-jobs/test1.sh
  • if you don't like typing - you can use tab completion to fill in the rest of a unique name - type the first few letters and then press tab.
ls List Directory Contents Lists everything in the current directory.
cd Change Directory Used to switch directories.
pwd Display pathname Displays the current pathname.
mv Rename or move files Moves/renames files or directories.
cp Copy files or directory  
mkdir Make Directory Create a folder in your current directory.
rm Remove or delete files  
rmdir Remove or delete directories  
history shows you previous commands you have used  
clear Clear terminal window Clears the complete window of your terminal.


Working with files

  • All files are plain text, or executable binaries.
  • file names - they can be anything you like (but should not contain spaces).
  • file name endings are used to help distinguish what is in the file.  Common endings are:
    • .txt - text
    • .sh - shell script
    • .sub - submission script
    • .err - error file
    • .out - output file
    • .gz - zipped tar file (akin to a zip file)
    • .jpg, .gif, .png - image files
  • less - used to see the contents of a file
  • editing files - you can use a command line app, or a gui.  Details of editors on ADA.
  • chmod - used to make a file executable - chmod u+x <filename>


Getting help with commands

To find out more about a command, and what options it has

  • use help  - help -m cp
  • use man (manual pages - they can be a bit baffling) - man cp