With DOS it was easy, you had a directory called Dos, one called Windows, and the rest of the folders contained you programs. This is all well
and good until you start to install quite a few programs, and things start getting hectic. The superiority of Linux shines through again. Programs
install into 'bin'ary diectorys so that they are all contained in one place. Librarys containing frequently used programming routines are kept in
'lib'rary directories and so on. Heres a quick guide on what the main directories hold :
- /bin This is where basic shell commands such as ls and mv reside. This directory is always in the executable path.
- /boot This is where the Kernel is stored and LILO gets its information from, and where module information is stored.
your best bet is to ignore this directory completly as for a normal user, it is dangerous to play with
- /dev This is where your devices, or hardware is contained. Hardware devices can be accessed like files which is cool when you consider that
you can echo a dial command to the modem on /dev/modem, and the modem will respond.
- /etc This is like the preferences folder on a Macintosh. Its a location where all programs create files that store their options. Here you
can set up your preferences for an Internet connection, for QuakeII, for your eMail even.
- /home This is where your users have their accounts. If you have added any users other than your standard root account, they will show up here.
It can also house the directories than your Web Server (Apache) accesses, if you have it installed.
- /lib This is where the basic libraries for booting Linux and running standard programs reside. Do not delete anything in this directory, ever
- /mnt This is the location where you mount your cdrom, zip drives, or dos drives.
- /opt If you have this directory, its probably where Netscape has installed if you have chosen Netscape to be loaded. Red Hat's Applix office
suite also installs here.
- /proc Again, Im not too sure what lives in here. It seems to be an area where information is kept on your hardware devices and system board.
Id advise against deleting anything in that directory.
- /root This your main account directory. The root user (Ie: you) have this space to keep all your downloads, and anything else you want to keep
in there basically
- /sbin Rather like /bin really. The 's' stands for System Binaries, where commands like shutdown, lilo and fdisk are stored.
- /tmp A useless directory, its short for Temporary. When you install Linux first, it creates a file in your /tmp directory with all the details.
- /usr This is an interesting one. When you install programs like the GIMP, and Windowmaker, they need to be accessed by all users, so this is
the directory they get installed into. Theres even another library directory for the new programs so that all users can see and access them.
Basically, any program that is not automatically installed with the Distribution, and needs to be accessed by all users ends up in this directory
- /var This is where your log files, and printer files are kept. Its again something you shouldnt need to know too much about.
Its rather a good idea to have separate directories for each of these areas within the OS. The manual files that come with Linux actually recommend putting
directories like /usr and /home on separate hard drives/partitions if possible. Have a look in each one, but I wouldnt recommend deleting anything unless you
really, really want to reinstall.
About the author, Owen Kelly.