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Important Unix Commands

Posted by vladimir gorea on Sat 03 February 2018 Updated on Sun 05 July 2020


Most common linux concepts and commands: files permissions, users, scripting, groups, ssh, filesystem, snap packages


These are the "rights" that an user has on certain files or folders. They are read,write and execute. To folders, execute means opening it. Only the file owner and root can modify the permissions. HOWEVER - a file can be replaced by its copy and thus gain access to setting permissions on it

chmod 777 -R {folder}

What is the sudo command?

The root user is enabled to do anything on the system. This makes it very powerful to use everytime, so instead we use users with limited permissions. For a regular user to access the restricted permissions it must use "sudo" in front of the command. It will prompt for the user password afterwards.

To add more users to the sudo privileges you must use the "visudo" command to edit the sudo file. Also, to enable an user to use the sudo command, the user must be a member of the sudo group.

How to set up users and groups

What are users

Linux is a multiuser operating system. There are human users - that log into the system - and system users - used for non-interactive actions. Linux treats them the same, only the ID range of them is different. Users can be in multiple groups at once. The information about users is stored in /etc/passwd file

Read about linux users on linuxacademy

[email protected]:~$ head -1 /etc/passwd

get current user with "whoami" change user with "su"


make script to run as anoher user

su - {username} <<-'EOF'
    {command 1}
    {command 2}
# the lines after the EOF will be executed again as the initial user

Adding users

If an user is created without setting a primary group, then a group with its name is created and assigned to it

adduser --home {home address} -c {comment} {user name}

or single command useradd -d {home dir path} -p {encrypted} -m {username}

Read resource about adding users here

Arguments to use:

c Adds a comment. -c “John from Accounts”

d Specifies home directory for the user. Use this if the name of the home directory is different from the username. -d /home/accounts/john

e Specifies the expiration date for the account in YYYY-MM-DD format. -e 2017-01-01

g Specifies the primary group of the user. The group must already exist in the /etc/group file. -g accounts

G Specifies the additional groups to which the user belongs. -G employees

k Specifies the skeleton directory. The contents from the skeleton directory are copied into the user’s home directory. This flag can only be used in conjunction with the -m flag. The default skeleton directory is /etc/skel. -k /skelton/accounts

p Specifies the password to be associated with this account. This must be an encrypted password. You can assign the password later using passwd command. -p hashed_password

s Specifies the shell to be associated with this account. -s /bin/bash

u Specifies the user ID to be used with this account. Without -u flag, the first available user ID will be assigned. -u 1005

Get info of user Read /etc/passwd and /etc/group

id {user}

Modifying users

Set password

sudo passwd {user}

Change the home directory (d flag) and copy the old content (m flag)

sudo usermod -m -d {new home dir} {user}

Change user's group

Change the main group

sudo usermod -g {new group} {user}

Add additional groups

sudo usermod -aG {group} {user}

Replace all additional groups

sudo usermod -G {group} {user}

Remove user from group

sudo deluser {user} {group}

Delete user This not only deletes the user but also removes all the files that belong to the user including those that are outside the home directory.

to remove user and its files/home folder add -r flag

sudo userdel -r {user}


Groups organize users permissions. When a file/folder is created it belongs by default to the user's primary group. Users that share the same group have the permissions set by the file/folder group permissions.

create new group groupadd {groupname}

How to change a folder owner and group

chown {user}:{group} {target}

To use recursivly apply the -R flag

How to see user's groups

groups {user}

Change primary group

chgrp {newgroup}


Read attlassian article about ssh keys - attlassian link

Generate ssh private/public keys:


Configuring ssh settings SSH settings are found at /etc/ssh/sshd_config:

PasswordAuthentication no

Settings that override the global settings for matching IP addresses only

Match address
PasswordAuthentication yes

Tell the sshd service to reload its configuration:

service ssh reload

Investigate Processes

To show processes and their owners use ps -ef | grep nginx

Ufw (firewall)

sudo ufw status verbose
sudo ufw enable
sudo ufw allow http
sudo ufw allow https
sudo ufw default deny incoming
sudo ufw default allow outgoing
sudo ufw allow ssh
sudo ufw allow 22
sudo ufw allow from

Investigate ports

see all ports

sudo netstat -tulpn


A terminal multiplexer (simulates multiple terminals inside one)

Fix garbled screen

sudo tmux show -g | cat > /etc/.tmux.conf
set -as terminal-overrides ',*:[email protected]'

Access address or port (curl, wget)

curl {address}:{port}


Empty file without removing

truncate -s 0 filename
> file.txt


Resources to read about it:

Create soft link ln -s file1 link1

Verify the created symlink with ls -l file1 link1

IMPORTANT: provide full path to file and links not relative to cwd

Mount/Unmount drives

fdisk -l
sudo mount /dev/sdb1 /media/usb-drive/

System check

Disk space

Executing df -h will show space information in human readable format

Available memory

free -m
vmstat -s


Snap is the new package management software with which Ubuntu wants to replace apt Article about managing it is here: ubuntu snaps

List all snap services

snap services

Stop service

sudo snap stop -disable {servicename}

Searching through the filesystem

A good guide on how to use find command is here \ General search for a file. example find {path} -name *.txt

Handle machine state

Restart immediately using sudo shutdown -r 0

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