Difficulty: beginner
Estimated Time: 60 minutes

Command-line Bootcamp

This is the command-line bootcamp, a tutorial that teaches you how to work at the command-line. You'll learn all the basic skills needed to start being productive in the UNIX terminal.


This 'bootcamp adventure' is intended to provide the reader with a basic overview of essential Unix/Linux commands that will allow them to navigate a file system and move, copy, edit files. It will also introduce a brief overview of some 'power' commands in Unix.

Why Unix?

The Unix operating system has been around since 1969. Back then there was no such thing as a graphical user interface. You typed everything. It may seem archaic to use a keyboard to issue commands today, but it's much easier to automate keyboard tasks than mouse tasks. There are several variants of Unix (including Linux), though the differences do not matter much for most basic functions.

Unix is particularly suited to working with text files, even very large ones, and has several powerful (and flexible) commands that can process your data for you. The real strength of learning Unix is that most of these commands can be combined in an almost unlimited fashion. So if you can learn just five Unix commands, you will be able to do a lot more than just five things.


The bootcamp tutorial text was adapted from the command-line bootcamp, which was adpted fromthe original by Keith Bradnam. This version was made by Stephen J Newhouse @s_j_newhouse.

Basic Linux and the Command Line

Step 1 of 30

How to read this tutorial

Command-line examples that you are meant to type into a terminal window, and the results of those examples, will be shown in a grey code block, e.g.

ls -lrh

Terminal Integration

You can also send code directly to the terminal. These code snippets or code blocks will be formatted as follow:

Allow a code block to be executed some-command

Allow a code block to be copied some-command

Sometimes the accompanying text will include a reference to a Unix command. Any such text will also be in a constant-width, boxed font. E.g.

Type the pwd command.

From time to time this documentation will contain web links to pages that will help you find out more about certain Unix commands. Usually, the first mention of a command or function will be a hyperlink to Wikipedia. Important or critical points will be styled like so:

This is an important point!

IMPORTANT: Please run the following command before proceeding!!!!

If you are not already set as USER learner, run the following commands:-

sudo -i -u learner && source .bashrc && clear