Directories and files

A directory is a container intended to hold objects such as files and other directories. A directory’s purpose is primarily for organization. A file, on the other hand, exists within the directory, and its purpose is to store raw data. At the top of all Linux filesystem hierarchies is a directory depicted simply by /; this is known as the root directory. Beneath / are named directories and files in an organized and well-defined tree. To describe these objects, you simply refer to them by name separated by the / character. For example, the object ls is an executable program stored in a directory called /bin under the root directory; it is depicted simply as /bin/ls.


Don’t confuse root directory with the username root, which is separate and distinct. There’s also often a directory named /root for the root user. Keeping /, /root, and the root user straight in a conversation can be a challenge.

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