Command Line Not Out of Fashion Everywhere

by Ostatic Staff - Oct. 29, 2010

In this day of heavy eye candy and all point 'n click desktops, the command-line seems to be falling further and further into disuse - at least by regular desktop users. The command-line and its power can perform everyday tasks faster and easier than a bunch of clicking around, yet new users are still intimidated by the prospect. But there really is nothing to fear. To help prove its usefulness, here are my top 15 used commands (from a fairly fresh install).


ls - list directory contents. can be used with a variety of options to refine its usefulness. My favorite is usually ls -hal, which is list all files (even hidden) in directory in an easily understandable long list format. Many times I may use -t for time to list newest first or -S for size to list the largest first.

equo - the command used for the command-line version of Sabayon's package management system.

cat - outputs the contents of a file onto standout or the terminal window.

mount - mounts devices and filesystems. Sometimes the automounter doesn't always work and how handy it is to know how to do manually.

nano - my favorite terminal text editor.

mkdir - makes new directories.

lsmod - list modules currently loaded very quickly.

top - displays tasks running and how much system resources being used by each.

sulfur - Sabayon's graphical package management. An update broke regular user execution and subsequent root password input - so I started it in the terminal for a while. Something not usually done.

modprobe - loads and activates device drivers or modules. My TV card is never auto-detected properly and it usually takes a while before I get around to remembering to add the commands into a startup file.

locate - finds files by name

exit - logs current user out

echo - displays a line of text, most handy for creating or adding a line of text (or command) to a file. Almost like the opposite of cat.

df - reports on the disk file system sizes. Handy for seeing how much space is left on a given partition.

killall - quickly dispatches a runaway or hanging process.


wc - displays byte, word, or line count of a given file.

cat - again, outputs the contents of a file onto the terminal for a quick and easy read.

tvtime - a TV viewing application I prefer to start from the command-line.

ls - again, lists the files in a directory.

killall - kills those runaway and hanging processses.

su - change to given user, most commonly superuser (or root)

top - again, gives resource usage information

ssh - facilitates the logging into a remote server (OpenSSH)

smbclient - allows SAMBA access to servers or other computers. Not real popular anymore with most people.

whois - searches the Whois Lookup directory for IP Addresses and domain names.

wget - command-line download client.

man - displays fine manuals. Helps users to use commands.

locate - again, finds files on your computer.

ps - lists current running processes.

history - lists a history of previously input commands. Especially handy for rarely used commands and options.