File System Structure

File System Structure

When I first started using Linux, the file system nearly killed me. I cut my baby computer teeth in the DOS-based environment (well … ok … it was actually BASIC) and the layout of Linux directories had me baffled for a while. I’d store a file and immediately it was lost. I had no idea what came “stock” in each directory, or even where to find the most important configuration and system files. The front slash was almost more than I could bear. And “dot” files? Get outta here!

I’ve since come to love the organzation of the Linux file system structure. What got me over the hump was a thorough pokin’ around in the top-level directories. Here’s what I found at the top of the Linux food chain:


      contains the main user-specific directories – think of this as a “My …” folder


      executables and other directories relevant to *all* users


      temporary files


      initialization and configuration files


      your devices


      a [var]iety of [var]ious things – log files, mail spools, etc.


      running processes


      ummm … the root file

The top-level directories also contain /opt and /sbin, files that have less relevance to all users. Many of these directories also contain subdirectories. While this is clearly a simplification of these directories and the overall structure, you should be able to dig deeply enough to unmask the Linux file system for the jewel it is.