Latest LQ Deal: Complete CCNA, CCNP & Red Hat Certification Training Bundle
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 06-12-2004, 10:37 AM   #1
Registered: Jun 2003
Distribution: SuSE10, Mepis,
Posts: 230

Rep: Reputation: 30
Where files/folders live? Linux is a mess!

As a newbie I'm getting to really love Linux now. Especially Mandrake 10 which rocks.

However, I find the Linux/Unix file/directory system a mess! There's bits and bats everywhere!!! var, etc, usr, bins, sbins within bins & bin in etc & usr...WHAT?!?

In Windows XP my C drive ("root directory!") has 3 folders Almost all of Windows itself sits in one, Programs go in another and your "home" sits in Documents and Settings. There seems to be crap everywhere in Linux and I'm finding in very hard to find stuff, where are my programs, where are all the sounds, where does stuff go when I install it, how do I find the exe. file and icons to the program to create a shortcut/link after installation????

Can anyone offer any help on the messy directory structure?

Many thanks in advance

Old 06-12-2004, 10:59 AM   #2
Registered: Feb 2004
Location: Florida
Distribution: FreeBSD, CentOS, Debian, Mint
Posts: 111

Rep: Reputation: 17
Its really not as bad as it looks at first..

/ would be the equivilent of c:\
/home is like My Documents
/etc is your config files
/usr hosts all your executable files (kinda)
/var is where you will find logs
/bin is like program files. where all the programs are stored.

Now this is just what I've gathered. You will find out more once you jump out of the gui and into the cli.

Any of you gurus out there, feel free to correct me where I am wrong.
Old 06-12-2004, 11:03 AM   #3
Registered: Oct 2002
Location: Stoughton, MA
Distribution: Gentoo x86_64 & PPC
Posts: 949

Rep: Reputation: 30
I can try. I remember when I got started with Linux I felt the same way. But now, having used it for a few years it makes even more sense than Windows.

Here's few commands to help you find stuff:

'find /home/username mozilla' would recursively search through your home dir for a file or directory named mozilla. With the find command, you have to put the search path first, then the filename. So 'find / vim' would search through the entire filesystem for vim. find is extremely useful, so be sure to check out the find man page to see the tons of options you can use with it.

'locate filename' will show the exact path to a particular file. ex:
scruff@genbox scruff $ locate Pulp Fiction.avi
 /data/movies/Pulp Fiction.avi
Locate uses a database that keeps a running list of filenames. The database is usually updated periodically depending on your distro, but if you want to locate a file recently added you might want to update it manually with 'updatedb' (as root).

Finally 'which xmms' will display the path to the xmms executable or any other executable program you need. However, if the executable is not in your PATH it wont show it. As user, most all dir's with programs in it are in your path anyway.

As far as getting the hang of the filesystem, here is a great link with probably more info than you need that explains all:

Last edited by Scruff; 06-12-2004 at 11:05 AM.
Old 06-12-2004, 12:34 PM   #4
Registered: Feb 2003
Location: Wisconsin
Distribution: Slackware
Posts: 188

Rep: Reputation: 30
I used to think the filesystem heirarchy was terrible also. You'll get used to it and eventually find it to be logical. For example, ever try to track down a configuration file in Windows?

Let's see, if they're running Windows 9x, its probabl burried in the C:\Program Files\WhateverApp\ directory. If they're running Windows XP or 2000, it could be in C:\Documents and Settings\User\Application Data\ or just in its own folder in C:\Documents and Settings\User. Not there? Well, you get to go looking through the registry.

In Linux? /etc for system wide settings, ~/.something for user specific settings
Old 06-12-2004, 01:25 PM   #5
Senior Member
Registered: Jun 2004
Location: Spain
Distribution: FC5
Posts: 1,993
Blog Entries: 1

Rep: Reputation: 46
Scruff : great post! and the link you provided clears a lot of my doubts.
Old 06-12-2004, 04:48 PM   #6
Registered: Oct 2002
Location: Stoughton, MA
Distribution: Gentoo x86_64 & PPC
Posts: 949

Rep: Reputation: 30
Cool! I am glad it helped. Linux has a steep learning curve, but one you get past the initial shock, everything starts to make perfect sense and the learning comes easier
Old 06-12-2004, 04:57 PM   #7
Registered: Apr 2002
Location: in a fallen world
Distribution: slackware by choice, others too :} ... android.
Posts: 23,067
Blog Entries: 11

Rep: Reputation: 911Reputation: 911Reputation: 911Reputation: 911Reputation: 911Reputation: 911Reputation: 911Reputation: 911
Re: Where files/folders live? Linux is a mess!

Originally posted by Stevetgn
In Windows XP my C drive ("root directory!") has 3 folders
And now you can also certainly tell me where for example
Windows' equivalent of Linux' /etc/services lives without
having to use the search-function of exploder?

The fact that MS hides their messes in 2 or 3 directories
on the base level doesn't make the mess any smaller.

And putting all configuration data into a single file doesn't
make the mess smaller, either, it's not exactly my favourite
past-time to clean out a 60MB registry.

Old 06-12-2004, 05:07 PM   #8
Registered: Mar 2003
Location: Scotland
Distribution: Slackware, RedHat, Debian
Posts: 12,047

Rep: Reputation: 66
There is also an article on the LQ Wiki about this:


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
copy files and folders codepoet Linux - Newbie 2 06-12-2005 03:08 PM
How many files and folders do you got? BBB General 1 12-29-2004 03:24 AM
want to access win98 files and folders from network through linux 7.2 Enigma abhijitpethkar Linux - Newbie 1 04-12-2004 06:50 AM
Linux creates buggy folders/files on fat32 chily Linux - General 4 03-14-2004 10:43 PM
The 'modified times' of files and folders is reset when copied from windows to linux? crazyswede Linux - Newbie 7 03-02-2004 09:53 AM > Forums > Linux Forums > Linux - Newbie

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:07 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
Facebook: linuxquestions Google+: linuxquestions
Open Source Consulting | Domain Registration