The File System

The Linux (and UNIX) file system is a hierarchical structure of files and directories that make up a Linux operating system.

In Linux, everything is a file. Unlike Windows where there are many other object types that can either be a physical device, and inter-process communication is done by a kernel call.

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The File System Hierarchy

The file system hierarchy is a set of directories that appear under the root directory /. They not only contain normal files, but also physical devices, virtual devices, and various other special files that control the system itself.

The directory structure is as follows:

DirectoryDescription
/The root directory, contains the all the other directories and files.
/binContains executables and command binares that are required for the system to function.
/bootThe Boot loader, this may usually be in a seperate partition.
/devContains special device files that can be used for special purposes (/dev/sda for a SATA drive, /dev/null for blank data, /dev/random for pseudo-random data, /dev/tty for terminal sessions, etc).
/etcContains system-wide settings and configuration files.
/homeUser data
/libLibraries required for executables in /bin to function. May be also named /lib<arch> for multi-architecture support.
/mediaMount points for removable media, such as USB drives, SD cards, etc.
/mntTemporary mount points for mounting devices.
/optOptional packages that may be installed by the user.
/procProcess data and kernel information for inter-process communication managed by the kernel.
/rootUser data for the root user.
/sbinExecutables for system tasks
/srvShared service data used by server processes, such as web servers and NAS/File servers.
/tmpTemporary data
/usrShared application data used by all users.
/varVariable data used by system processes.

The Home Directory

The home folder is the place where all your personal data is stored. It is a directory that is located under the /home directory, followed by the username. It is similar to the Users folder in Windows.

In Linux, the home folder is usually more extensively used than in Windows, as it stores all user-specific data and app settings. The system folders are only used when one wants to make system-wide changes.

If an app you don't know asks you for your password or root access, It may be trying to compromise your system. Cases like this are usually uncommon on Linux, but you should be aware of it.

Edit this page on GitHub Updated at Wed, Jun 15, 2022