10 Basic Shell Commands

An introduction to the command line

Why Get Familiar with the Command Line?

Why Get Familiar with the Command Line?

The world runs on headless computers.

Why Get Familiar with the Command Line?

Headless Computers

  • Have no monitor
  • Have no keyboard or mouse
  • Live in racks, not on desks
  • Often do not have GUI software

GUI: Graphical User Interface

If you can use the command line, you can...

Use & customize your own VPS droplet

Power administrate on any hosting account

Quickly accomplish many tasks

Troubleshoot more effectively

Use GIT and other workflow products

And if you just start learning a little bit now, you will get better at *NIX environments almost as if by accident.

*NIX: Unix based OS's, like Mac OSX and Linux.

So let's do it

Open your terminal window

Here are 10 shell commands to try & learn


Print Working Directory.

Where am I?



View the current directory's contents.

Try ls -lah for more detail.

cd [go_to]

Change Directory.

Let's move.

touch [filename]

Touch a file.

Create a blank file with this name.

mv [current] [new]


Move or rename a file.

cp [existing] [new]


Copies a file.

mkdir [dir_name]


Make a new folder (directory).

chmod [options] [file]


Alter the permissions on a file or dir.

cat [user@host] [file]


Concatenate files.

Can also be used to read the contents of a file, or save new files.

tail [file] [opts]


Read the last lines of a file.

Great for looking at recent log entries.

Now start using them!

Choose the command line for looking at logs, or renaming files, or adjusting permissions.

What Next?

  • Get the command line going in your workflow
  • Use these slides for your own presentation
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