Super-duper crash course in Linux Terminal commands.

So you need to learn how to use a Linux (command line) terminal, like, now?!?!?

Crash course: open a terminal ([Ctrl]-[Alt]-[F2], or look under Applications -> Accessories/Utilities) and try every single one of these commands:

Okay, maybe you shouldn’t go all willy-nilly with every single one of these off the bat (the rm -rf command is not to be trifled with), but use these with your better judgement after reading the command descriptions.

Whether you are using Ubuntu, Red Hat, Fedora, SuSE, Gentoo, Debian, or Mint (which is actually just Ubuntu), if you are a new Linux user, then you will probably need to use a terminal at some point. If you don’t know what a terminal is, then you have either not had any problems with your Linux distribution whatsoever or you’ve only recently installed Linux for the first time.  The reason I say this is because most of the help you’ll find from the Linux community starts with, “Open a terminal and type….”  If you want to  understand what it is that you are doing, then download the nifty FOSSwire UNIX/Linux terminal command reference above and use it as a quick-glance guide. When you see the instructions for fixing “xyz problem” in the forums, refer back to this sheet to break down the full commands.

At the very least download this PDF and keep it right next to you at all times while learning how to use a terminal in Linux. Better yet, print an extra one out and keep it for a handout to someone else who is going to ask you for help with their Linux install. Even if you know Every. Single. Unix. Command. Evaaarrr….   then keep one printout for giving out as christmas presents to others who may not.

No, I’m not being paid by the state agriculture dept or Dunder Mifflin to say this.  Yes, I am aware that most people will keep PDFs on their phone, tablet, notebook, or AIO-PC (carried around in a backpack for the hardcores out there), but even if you make a QR code linking directly to this PDF, print it on a business card, and hand it to new users, it will not be as useful as having this hard, tangible, paper reminder to try each of these commonly used commands.  …and you’ll be supporting the state’s agricultural products.

BTW, if you do want that QR code, or just to get the PDF quickly:


Some users out in the interwebz have created simple wallpapers for the desktop which will keep some commonly used commands printed right before your eyes.  If there is ever a distro called “Beginner-buntu,” then it should include one of these nifty command line reference wallpapers in its gallery…

This one snagged from a Mac help site (which explains the blank space to the right), but these commands work in Linux as well. The vim commands even work too! (found on

The next one, I had a student try to use it as his wallpaper to cheat on a test. I had to give him credit for ingenuity, but I hawked right behind him so he couldn’t minimize his test to reference this wallpaper (found on

Hopefully, any combination of what you’ve found here will help you or someone you love through a rough transition (into Linux).  Hopefully (more than my previous hopeful wishy-thing), Linux’s new users will not have to know what a terminal is.

Unless, you know of course, they want to dig in.

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