Feeling scared of the command line? You’re not alone. We have this image of developers staring intently at a black screen with white or green text flashing across as they wildly enter incomprehensible commands to hack into the corporate mainframe (no doubt while guzzling soda and wiping neon orange Cheetos dust off their keyboard).
That black screen or window is the command line interface (CLI), where you’re able to enter commands that your computer will run for you. While there’s no need for you to reenact the scene above, working with the command line is a critical skill for you to learn as a developer. The command line is like our base of operations, from which we can launch other programs and interact with them. It has a syntax of its own to learn, but since you’ll be entering the same commands dozens of times, you’ll quickly pick up the commands you need most.
In this introductory lesson to the command line, you’ll learn how to navigate around your computer and how to manipulate files and directories (also known as folders) directly from the comfort of the command line. You’ll soon see that this isn’t as difficult as you may think. The commands you will learn in this lesson are very straightforward, so don’t be intimated by the prospect of using the command line for the first time.
You will be making heavy use of the command line throughout this curriculum, and the upcoming installations project will require you to install many different software programs using the command line. Additionally, you will primarily be using Git within the command line (more on this later). As part of the bigger picture, you may well be using the command line on a daily basis in your career as a software developer, making it an indispensable skill in your toolset.
By the end of this lesson, you should be able to do the following:
Note: Many of these resources assume you’re using a Mac or Linux environment. You can either skip ahead to the installations section and follow the instructions to install Linux or use an online IDE like AWS Cloud9, which provides a terminal window that you can use to practice.
In this exercise, you will practice creating files and directories and deleting them.
test.txt. Hint: use the
That’s it–you’re done with command line basics! If you commit to doing most things from the command line from here on out, these commands will become second nature to you. Moving and copying files is much more efficiently done through the command line, even if it feels like more of a hassle at this point.
This section contains helpful links to other content. It isn’t required, so consider it supplemental material for if you want to dive deeper into something.
This section contains questions for you to check your understanding of this lesson. If you’re having trouble answering the questions below on your own, clicking the small arrow to the left of the question will reveal the answers.
cdcommand to change directories.
cdon its own navigate you to?
cd ..navigate you to?
pwd(print working directory) command.
ls -lto display the files in a list.
rmcommand. To destroy folders, use
mv folder/old-file.txt folder/new-file.txt.