LiveFire Labs: Online UNIX Training with Hands-on Internet Lab

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"I registered for LiveFire Labs’ courses after I was given an assignment to work with an IBM RS/6000 running AIX. The courses provided me with a basic working knowledge of UNIX for this assignment, and a solid foundation to build on until I become proficient with the operating system.

The price was great, and the hands-on Internet Lab provides the student with a real but safe place to practice immediately after a lesson. The convenience of learning at my desk was also important to me.

I am likely to take another LiveFire Labs’ course because they are quality lessons without the high cost and travel expenses, and I recommend the courses to others.

Thanks again for your company's good service."

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Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania

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LiveFire Labs' UNIX Tip, Trick, or Shell Script of the Week

Standard UNIX & Linux Operating System Directories

Although there may be a few exceptions, you will find a similar set of system directories on all UNIX and Linux operating systems. These system directories are located directly below the root directory, and are essential to the startup and continuous operation of the system. The following is a list of these key directories and their contents:

/bin - The /bin directory contains programs needed for using and managing the system. Some of the frequently used commands in this directory are date (displays today's date), ls (lists the contents of a directory), and cp (makes a copy of a file). The name bin is used for this directory because executable programs in UNIX and Linux are called binary files.

/dev - This directory contains system device files. A device file is a special object in the file system that provides an interface to a particular device. Examples of devices having device files in /dev are disk drives, tape drives, or CDROM drives.

/etc - System specific configuration files, and files essential for system startup are located in the /etc directory. In the past, administrative executable programs were also stored in this directory but have been moved to the /sbin directory.

[ If you are new to UNIX and need an overview of important UNIX commands and concepts, check out our Basic UNIX Commands and Concepts Tutorial for Beginners ]

/home - The /home directory is where the home directories for all users of the system are stored. For example, if John Doe's username is jdoe, the path to his home directory would be /home/jdoe. John would store his personal files and programs in this directory.

/mnt - This directory is where temporary file systems are mounted. It may contain subdirectories like cdrom, floppy, and disk. Once a cdrom has been mounted on the system (made available for reading its contents), the path to the files located on the cdrom would be /mnt/cdrom.

/opt - The /opt directory contains software files that are not installed when the operating system is installed. This directory usually contains products provided by third-party software vendors.

/sbin - Programs for administering a system are located in the /sbin directory. Some examples are fdisk (used to partition a disk), fsck (used to check the integrity of a file system), and shutdown (used for stopping a system). An easy way to remember the contents of this directory is to equate sbin with "system binaries."

/tmp - As the name implies, this directory is used for holding temporary files. This directory is commonly referred to as a scratch directory, and can be used by all system users. You should not store any important files in this directory because its contents may be deleted at any time. Your important files should be kept in your home directory.

/usr - The /usr directory contains programs and files related to the users of a system. The data in /usr is typically read-only, and may be shared with other computer systems on a network. You will notice that the directory structure under /usr is somewhat similar to the directory structure under the root directory (/).

/var - Files with varying content are stored in the /var directory. This includes system log files, mail system files, and print spooling system files.

Read the PREV article in this series - The UNIX File System Structure

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LiveFire Labs' UNIX Tip, Trick or Shell Script Archive

If you are serious about learning UNIX then keep reading.

When you had to learn a new skill or technology in the past, what was the best way to get started?

If you are like most people, it was by practicing the concepts instead of just reading about them in a book or training manual.

You may be wondering if this approach is even possible with online courses since most e-Learning training options only provide students with material to read or a video to watch.