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Tips & Tricks: A Comparison of Common DOS and Linux Commands

Many Linux commands typed at a shell prompt are similar to the commands you would type in DOS. In fact, some commands are identical.

This appendix provides common commands used at the DOS prompt in Windows and their counterparts in Linux. Basic examples of how the command are used at the Linux shell prompt are also provided. Note that these commands usually have a number of options. To learn more about each command, read its associated man page (for example, type man ls at the shell prompt to read about the ls command).

Command's Purpose MS-DOS Linux Basic Linux Example
Copies files copy cp cp thisfile.txt /home/thisdirectory
Moves files move mv mv thisfile.txt /home/thisdirectory
Lists files dir ls ls
Clears screen cls clear clear
Closes shell prompt exit exit exit
Displays or sets date date date date
Deletes files del rm rm thisfile.txt
"Echoes" output to the screen echo echo echo this message
Edits text files edit gedit ([a]) gedit thisfile.txt
Compares the contents of files fc diff diff file1 file2
Finds a string of text in a file find grep grep "word or phrase" thisfile.txt
Formats a diskette format a: (if diskette is in A:) mke2fs /sbin/mke2fs /dev/fd0 (/dev/fd0 is the Linux equivalent of A:)
Displays command help command /? man or info man command
Creates a directory mkdir mkdir mkdir directory
Views contents of a file more less ([b]) less thisfile.txt
Renames a file ren mv ([c]) mv thisfile.txt thatfile.txt
Displays your location in the file system chdir pwd pwd
Changes directories with a specified path (absolute path) cd pathname cd pathname cd /directory/directory
Changes directories with a relative path cd .. cd .. cd ..
Displays the time time date date
Shows amount of RAM in use mem free free


  1. Gedit is a graphical text editor; other editors you can use in place of Gedit include nano and vi.
  2. The more pager can also be used to page through a file one screen at a time.
  3. The mv command can both move a file and, if you want to rename a file in the same directory, "move" that file to the same directory with a new name.

For more tips and tricks and quality information on how to administer your Red Hat Enterprise Linux system check out Red Hat Docs.


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