Advanced file management

Beyond the Basics

Article from Issue 146/2013

Once you’ve mastered the everyday commands for manipulating files, you might want to do more. We show you some powerful commands for advanced file management.

If you’ve worked from the command line regularly, you’ve probably learned the common options for commands such as cp, ls, mv, and rm. You also might have learned to change file attributes with commands like chmod and chown and to read the contents of files with less, head, and tail. However, these are only the basics for file management. Beyond these options is wealth of advanced commands for manipulating, viewing, verifying, and securely deleting files, to say nothing of copying in ways that go far beyond what cp can manage.

In fact, the command line is meant for file management. The desktop is fine for routine operations such as copying files from one device to another or changing basic permissions. But file management is a basic function, and people have been carrying it out at the command line as long as computers have existed. As a result, once you know the tools that are available, the command line is quicker and more precise than the desktop in every aspect of file management you can imagine – and, very likely, in those you can’t.

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