Mastering the Command Line: A Decade of Experience with Linux

4 min readJul 5, 2023

As a seasoned Linux user with a decade of experience under my belt, I can confidently say that the command line interface (CLI) is the backbone of my daily workflow.

Its power and versatility have become indispensable in accomplishing tasks swiftly and efficiently.

In this article, I will emphasize the significance of mastering the command line, share valuable tips for optimal usage, present a practical scenario to showcase its capabilities, and introduce 10 essential Linux commands that you can start with.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

The Significance of Mastering the Command Line

The command line is not merely a tool; it is the very essence of the Linux experience. The ability to manage your system, troubleshoot issues, and automate tasks, all from the command line, is empowering. It provides a level of control that the graphical user interface simply cannot match.

Mastering the command line allows you to interact directly with your system. It gives you the flexibility to string together commands, creating powerful pipelines that can simplify complex tasks. It’s an art that once mastered, allows you to tap into the true power of Linux.

Valuable Tips for Optimal Usage

  • Learn the Basics: Start with basic commands like ls, cd, mkdir, rm, and cp. Understanding the file system and how to navigate it is the first step in your CLI journey. Get more on this.
  • Leverage the Manual: The man command is your friend. It provides detailed documentation on command usage and options.
  • Use Tab Completion: Save time and avoid typos. Press the Tab key to autocomplete filenames and command options. Get more on bash shortcut.
  • Learn to Pipe and Redirect: The power of the command line is in chaining commands together. Learn to use |, >, and >> to pipe and redirect output.
  • Understand Permissions and Ownership: Familiarize yourself with chmod, chown, and chgrp to manage file permissions and ownership.
  • Embrace Command History: Use the history command and the up and down arrows to quickly access previous commands. Get more on history command
  • Experiment: Don’t be afraid to try out new commands. Just make sure you understand what they do first.

Practical Scenario: File Management and System Monitoring

As an example of the command line’s power, let’s take a look at a common scenario: managing files and monitoring system resources.

For file management, commands like ls, cd, mkdir, cp, mv, and rm are essential. For instance, to create a directory and copy a file into it, you would use:

mkdir new_directory
cp existing_file new_directory/

For system monitoring, commands like top, ps, free, and df are incredibly useful. For instance, to check your system’s memory usage, you would use:

free -h

My Top 10 Go-To Linux Commands

As a newcomer to the Linux world, there are ten essential commands that you should get acquainted with, to build a strong foundation and navigate your way confidently.

Get more examples of these commands.

Let’s take a look at them:

1. pwd: Print Working Directory

The pwd command shows your current directory. When you open a terminal, you’ll often want to know where you are in the directory structure, and pwd will tell you.



2. cd: Change Directory

To navigate through the Linux file system, the cd command is used.


cd /home/username/Documents

This command navigates to the Documents directory.

3. ls: List Directory Contents

The ls command is used to view the contents of a directory.



This will list all files and directories in the current directory.

4. cat: Concatenate and Display Files

The cat command is used to display the contents of files, and can also concatenate multiple files together.


cat filename

This displays the contents of filename.

5. cp: Copy Files and Directories

The cp command is used to copy files or directories from one location to another.


cp sourcefile destinationfile

This copies sourcefile to destinationfile.

6. mv: Move or Rename Files

The mv command is used to move files or directories from one location to another. It is also used to rename files or directories.


mv oldname newname

This renames oldname to newname.

7. rm: Remove Files and Directories

The rm command is used to remove or delete files and directories.


rm filename

This removes filename.

8. sudo: Execute Commands with Root Privileges

The sudo command allows a permitted user to execute a command as the superuser.


sudo apt-get update

This updates the list of available packages and their versions on a Debian-based system.

9. man: Display Manual Pages

The man command provides manual pages for Linux commands. It’s a useful tool for learning what different commands do.


man ls

This shows the manual page for the ls command.

10. exit: Exit the Shell

The exit command is used to close a terminal session.



This will close the current terminal session.

These are the first 10 commands you should familiarize yourself with as a new Linux user. Practice them regularly, and before you know it, you’ll be navigating and manipulating your Linux system like a pro. Welcome to the world of Linux! Enjoy the journey!



howtouselinux is a website that publishes Linux server tutorials. We will cover the Linux command line in detail.