Visit Jeremy's Blog.
Go Back > Forums > Linux Forums > Linux - Newbie
User Name
Linux - Newbie This Linux forum is for members that are new to Linux.
Just starting out and have a question? If it is not in the man pages or the how-to's this is the place!


  Search this Thread
Old 03-10-2016, 09:29 AM   #1
Hatman KZN
Registered: Oct 2010
Location: Scottburgh South Africa
Distribution: Linux Mint 17.3 - Mate
Posts: 76

Rep: Reputation: 9
Question What do all the symbols in the command line signify

I am trying very hard to understand how to use the terminal and can figure out some of the basics.
What is not clear though is what the different symbols like /< > - ..etc mean and when to use them.
Do they mean go, stop, reverse, turn left etc if I may use a motoring analogy?

Apt-get I understand to mean "go fetch the app" but why the - symbol?

I have downloaded CLIcompanion on advice from someone and although it lists some common commands it does not elaborate on their usage.
The way it is set up also forces you to look through all the commands every time to find one that gives the code for what you want to do.

Is there a catalog or something somewhere that lists what you want to do alphabetically and then gives you the command that you need to use instead of listing the commands alphabetically and their usage after?

I have dumb questions I haven't even thought of yet.
Old 03-10-2016, 09:46 AM   #2
Senior Member
Registered: May 2006
Location: USA
Distribution: Debian
Posts: 4,824

Rep: Reputation: 615Reputation: 615Reputation: 615Reputation: 615Reputation: 615Reputation: 615
- means nothing in particular. It's just part of the command name, and commands are named arbitrarily. Spaces delineate commands from arguments.
< and > are input and output redirection. See e.g.
/ separates folders in a path name, e.g. /usr/local/bin or /home/hatman/Downloads
Old 03-10-2016, 10:21 AM   #3
Senior Member
Registered: Jan 2007
Location: Wild West Wales, UK
Distribution: Linux Mint 21 MATE, EndeavourOS, MX Linux
Posts: 3,516
Blog Entries: 20

Rep: Reputation: 1336Reputation: 1336Reputation: 1336Reputation: 1336Reputation: 1336Reputation: 1336Reputation: 1336Reputation: 1336Reputation: 1336Reputation: 1336
Hatman KZN,

Don't get yourself too bogged down with the command line.

Just try to get an overall “feel” for it, with some of the more common commands.

15 are listed here:

Short Guide I:

Short Guide II

Plus two “cheat sheets” for you to print and keep handy for emergencies!

Study these in the meantime and when the need arises, hopefully you will be in a better position and feel more confident in using the CL.

Here's one for you, installing some new software for LibreOffice Writer….Microsoft TrueType fonts.

Open Terminal and using Copy & Paste to avoid typos:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install ttf-mscorefonts-installer

At some point you will need to answer Yes by typing y and then pressing Enter.

You will also need to agree to the MS EULA:

This is done by pressing the Tab key (above Caps Lock), then pressing Left Arrow key (to highlight Yes) and finally press the Enter key.

You can then open LO Writer and select fonts such as Times New Roman etc which were not available previously.

Here's another one:
cd Desktop
You will now see a list of all the icons/programs on your Mint Desktop.

Good luck!
1 members found this post helpful.
Old 03-10-2016, 10:33 AM   #4
Registered: Aug 2002
Posts: 23,900

Rep: Reputation: 5264Reputation: 5264Reputation: 5264Reputation: 5264Reputation: 5264Reputation: 5264Reputation: 5264Reputation: 5264Reputation: 5264Reputation: 5264Reputation: 5264
In addition,

linux has only two characters that are not allowed in file names i.e. the / and NULL.

This quick reference guide might also help.

Last edited by michaelk; 03-10-2016 at 10:34 AM.
1 members found this post helpful.
Old 03-10-2016, 10:15 PM   #5
Senior Member
Registered: Nov 2015
Location: Alberta Canada
Distribution: Windows10, Debian
Posts: 1,109

Rep: Reputation: 147Reputation: 147
The manual pages are very helpful. In the terminal simply type man command name. command name of course is the particular command you are interested in, as an example; man sudo then hit enter and view the results.

Last edited by offgridguy; 03-10-2016 at 10:19 PM.


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Error compiling 'foto'. [error adding symbols: DSO missing from command line] 313 Linux - Software 1 02-04-2014 08:45 AM
[SOLVED] Cursor does not move to the bottom line and overwrite to same line on command line mesuutt Linux - Newbie 3 02-25-2012 09:04 AM
Some line drawing characters & other symbols appear as diamonds in terminals (ttys) William (Dthdealer) Linux - Software 7 09-30-2010 09:02 PM
What does failure to load symbols signify? Millenniumman Programming 2 06-11-2007 07:25 PM > Forums > Linux Forums > Linux - Newbie

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:47 PM.

Main Menu
Write for LQ is looking for people interested in writing Editorials, Articles, Reviews, and more. If you'd like to contribute content, let us know.
Main Menu
RSS1  Latest Threads
RSS1  LQ News
Twitter: @linuxquestions
Open Source Consulting | Domain Registration