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the command line
☝ Windows users don't use the same terminal commands, but you should learn and practice them anyway because they are heavily used when publishing your apps on any web hosting, Gitpod, Codespaces, Cloud9, etc. You can use Git SCM to create a similar terminal on your computer.
At first, everybody hated the command line. After years of experience, it became an acquired taste.
But why do developers like it? Well, the list is infinite, but here are a few important reasons:
The console is really simple: it’s a black screen that’s always expecting a command. After you type the desired command and press the
return key, the computer executes it and shows some feedback with the resulting output on the screen. A simple Question <> Answer interface.
But, what is a command?
It is something like "print", "show", or "delete" but abbreviated. For example, if you want to tell the console to list all the files in a particular directory, you have to use the
ls command like this:
All commands have three parts: the utility, the flags, and the arguments. The utility always comes first. The other two parts have different rules, and, depending on which command you are using, you may not have to use any flags or arguments at all.
In this particular case, we use the
-l "flag" to specify that we want a "long" version of the list of files (with more details).
The last thing we have to add is the "argument." In this case, the "argument" will be the path of the directory from which we want to list the files.
Your computer has files, directories, and applications. Your command line is able to deal with all three of them. Use commands to move within the files and directories (like the
cd command). Every application that you install comes with a set of commands that become available the moment you install the app (like the GIT command).
There are 4 important things to notice here:
. to refer to all the files and folders in the hierarchy.
.. to refer to the parent directory.
/ to navigate further down in the hierarchy of directories.
Here is a small selection of the most used commands by a software developer.
The list command
The ls command is used for listing all the files and directories that form the current position.
The change directory command
Travel between two different directories.
The move command
Move a file to another folder or directory. Just like dragging a file located on a PC desktop to a folder stored within the "Documents" folder.
The remove command
This deletes files (not directories).
The make directory command
Makes a new directory. Just like making a new directory within a PC or Mac desktop environment, the mkdir command makes new directories in a Linux environment.
The remove directory command
It deletes a directory (not files).
☝ It will only remove empty directories, to empty all directory files use the
rm -rcommand (-r flag forces the remove command to delete the directory and all the files within it). Pro-tip: you can use
rm *to delete all of the files inside a directory simultaneously; use with caution.
The Copy File command
Don’t confuse this command with the clipboard copy functionality – it has nothing to do with it.
cp will copy an entire file and create a new one with whatever name you decide it should have.
The find command
Finds a file in the given directory with the given specifications.
These will help you save time and make fewer mistakes when typing:
up arrow, and it will show you each command, one by one.
~ key like this:
clear command to "clean" the current console (it is just a scroll, but a very useful one).
This is one of the things that you cannot avoid doing in the terminal. As a developer, you will have to edit files in the terminal more often than you think. That’s why you’d better be prepared to use either the VIM Application or the Nano Application. We will talk about Nano and its commands (yes, here the text editor opens inside the command line and runs using commands).
It’s not really a command, actually the name of "Nano" is a text editor application.
When working with the command line, sometimes you will have to open a file to review it and even change it. For that, we use the "nano" command. Nano basically opens a text editor within the command line.
When nano opens, it will show a top bar with the current version of the nano application; the name of the file being edited; and a status telling you if the files were modified or not.
At the bottom you will see the most often used commands in nano such as: exit, where is, get help, etc.
☝ This website has a ton of great mini-challenges to help you practice the command line: