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Old 11-27-2006, 03:04 PM   #1
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DOS commands and Linux

I'm contemplating switching from Windows to Linux, but I'd like to be prepared. What I used to like about Windows was that whatever version you (or your friend) were using, it had DOS at its core. If you had a problem, you could get into DOS and fix it manually with the typed commands. Now with Windows ME, it's very difficult to get into DOS without a special boot disk, and with XP it's even worse.

I'd like to have that same feeling of capability with Linux, and I'll hit the books memorize the equivalent Linux commands to do it. But I know so little about Linux that I'm unclear on whether all its versions HAVE a similar core O/S. I'd hate to waste my time learning commands that are no longer in use with a current version of Linux.

So, what to read? And what is the core O/S called, if it exists?

Last edited by kataclysm; 11-27-2006 at 03:06 PM.
Old 11-27-2006, 03:15 PM   #2
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this thread has been posted in the wrong forum, and will soon be moved, but if you could possibly tell us why you chose to post in this forum (LQ Suggestions & Feedback) in particular, we're keen to find out.

As for your question, linux *IS* the core os, in fact it's normally a 2 to 3mb boot file and associated additional driver modules. the windowing systems, the applications eetc, are not linux, they are "GNU" software, that just happens to have been built to run on the linux core which handles device, memory management etc...
Old 11-27-2006, 03:19 PM   #3
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linux isnt an OS! its a 'kernel'. windows and every OS has a kernel that is the core of the system and makes your computer breathe. linux doesnt have a GUI, however there are programs such as KDE and GNOME (visit their sites or read about them on

but to answer your question, yes. linux is heavily based on the comand line, every program that is run is (essentially) executed from the command line.

there are way too many linux introduction sites on the internet to list and i dont know of any off hand. visit and search for a basic tutorial.

the best way to learn it, is to burn the installation CD/DVD and install it. visit for a good list of linux 'distributions' and their statistics, links to their forums, downloads, etc. a 'distribution' is basically a specific bundle of software including the linux kernel, maybe a graphical environment/GUI, web browsers, office suites, system administration tools, and way way more.

your not wasting time learning the command line but i dont think there are too many similarities between the bash shell (or other unix-based shells/command line interpreters) and the windows one as it was pre-NT. but again, just pick a distro install it and let us know whats wrong or learn more and help others here!

Last edited by nadroj; 11-27-2006 at 03:20 PM.
Old 11-27-2006, 03:43 PM   #4
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An older, but pertinent document discussing the Linux kernel architecture.

A contemporary and pertinent document that guides you through the process of building your own Linux-based OS. Worth looking at to understand what else is required besides the Linux kernel even if you don't plan to build your OS from scratch.

A couple of documents to peruse, both have a table with DOS to *nix command cross references. Document 1 and document 2.

Each distribution does things a little bit different based on the philosophy that spawned the distro in the first place. However, I can't think of a popular distro off the top of my head that uses unique commands. If you learn the commands in one distro, generally speaking you'll be able to use them in all distros.

P.S. Before you come back and post the Linux Energizer Bunny question, "Which Distro is Best?" skim this thread. It's a purely subjective question with no real answer.

Last edited by weibullguy; 11-27-2006 at 03:48 PM.
Old 11-27-2006, 04:32 PM   #5
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/moved, but as indicated the answer to the question Chris asked may help us improve LQ and would be appreciated.

Old 11-27-2006, 06:13 PM   #6
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In DOS, the Command Line Interface (CLI) is "". On most GNU/Linux it is GNU "bash". But there are many other to choose from if you are really particular.

Bash is, in my opinion, significantly better than the I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how powerful it is.

If you haven't used the DOS command line in a while, then you will have less to unlearn.

If all you want to do is explore the command line, you can try a LiveCD (Knoppix, Ubuntu, Mepis, to name a few) and open the terminal program.

The "man": manual command is your best friend. It can be very technical, but there is a lot of information.

Other references:

- The BASH reference manual

- Wikipedia: BASH

Good Luck

Last edited by jerril; 11-27-2006 at 06:15 PM.
Old 11-27-2006, 07:46 PM   #7
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Just to add my 2c worth, the best way to think about it is linux and windows would be a lot more similar if MS has never abandoned DOS. Contempory linux disributions have more in common with windows 3.11 in this respect, in that they are a command line OS with a GUI sitting on top. The core of a distribution is actualy linux, and this can be used without anthing on top (much like DOS was to Win 3.1x). Not even a command line is manditory, becuase of the modular nature of linux, although these types of distributions are genraly for running appliances such as DVD writers, microwaves or smart phones. The things that sit on top, that make it look a bit like windows XP or OSX such as KDE and Gnome are pretty and usefull but aren't the core aplication shuch as windows explorer is. In the same way, the command shell sits on top of the kernel, too. As Jeril mentioned, the most common command shell is bash, but you could aso use crash, krabbe or bourne, there are even command shells that react just like DOS (lock up a lot...). As for commands that are incompatible with other versions, these are few and far between, and are generaly not commands at all, but distro specific applictaions such as apt or YUM.
Old 11-28-2006, 01:51 AM   #8
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I'm so glad Microsoft did abandon DOS. This was a significant reason for me becoming impatient with Windows and start looking for alternatives.

Old 11-28-2006, 02:20 AM   #9
Wim Sturkenboom
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Basic commands are the same on all distros.

Some translations for the commands that I use most
dos          linux
copy         cp          copy
rename       mv          move
mkdir        mkdir       make directory
delete       rm          remove
dir          ls          list
cd           cd          change directory
cd           pwd         print working directory
Old 11-28-2006, 09:50 AM   #10
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Thanks very much indeed. I'll learn the Bash commands then, as it sounds like they ARE applicable to all/almost all distributions. Thank you for the Bash Reference Manual. I apologize about posting in the wrong forum--originally I chose to post in "Linux - General" as I have no specific troubleshooting issues, but when I left the site to check email to confirm registration, I must have gotten dizzy and stumbled through the wrong door.


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