Your desktop file manager is a powerful and important tool for managing
files and directories using the graphical desktop. This chapter discusses
various shell prompt commands that can be used to manage files and
directories on your Red Hat Linux system. This chapter also discusses compression
tools to create archives of your files for backup or to conveniently
send to others.
14.1. A Larger Picture of the File System
Every operating system has a method of storing data in files and directories
so that it can keep track of additions, modifications, and other changes.
In Linux, every file is stored in a directory. Directories can also
contain directories; these subdirectories can
also contain files and other subdirectories.
You might think of the file system as a tree-like structure and
directories as branches. These directories may contain, or be the
"parent" of, directories within it (called
subdirectories) which hold files and may contain
subdirectories of their own.
There would not be a tree without a root, and the same is true for the
Linux file system. No matter how far away the directories branch, everything is
connected to the root directory, which is represented as a single forward slash
Red Hat Linux uses the term root
in several different ways, which might be confusing to new users. There
is the root account (the superuser, who has permission to do anything),
the root account's home directory (/root) and the
root directory for the entire file system (/).
When you are speaking to someone and using the term
root, be sure to know which root is being
Unless you are a system administrator or have root (superuser) access,
you probably do not have permission to write to the files and
directories outside of your home directory. Certain directories are
reserved for specific purposes. For example, /home
is the default location for users' home directories.
Users that do not have superuser access might find the following
directories useful for finding their home directories, reading
documentation, or storing temporary files.
/home — Default location for users'
home directories. For example, a user with the username
foo has the home directory
/usr/share/doc — Location of
documentation for installed packages. For example, the documentation
for the redhat-config-date software package is
/tmp — The reserved directory for all
users to store temporary files. Files stored here are not permanent. A
system process removes old files from this directory on a periodic
basis. Do not write any files or directories that you want to keep
Your Red Hat Linux system is compatible with many other Linux distributions
because of the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard (FHS). The FHS guidelines
help to standardize the way system programs and files are stored on all
To learn more about the FHS, refer to the
Red Hat Linux Reference Guide. You can also visit the FHS website at