10 Linux Shortcuts You Can't Live Without

Last updated: Sep 21, 2007

1. Tab

The most handy shortcut and time saver for the linux command line. This actually makes navigating directories faster in the CLI than the traditional GUI browser. Simply start typing the command, filename, or directory and hit tab. Bash will automatically complete what you are typing. It even works at the lilo prompt and in some X applications.

2. Ctrl + c

Stop that program dead in its tracks. This is the command line version of end task.

3. Ctrl + z

Send the current process to background. This is useful if you have a program running, and you need the terminal for awhile but don’t want to exit the program completely.

Type the command fg to get the process back.

4. Ctrl + d

Log out from the current terminal. If you use this in an X terminal emulator such as xterm it will usually close it after logging out.

5. Ctrl + u

Erase the current line. I use this one all the time when I type the wrong command in.

6. Ctrl + Alt + F1, (F1-F6)

Switch to the first virtual terminal. In Linux, you can have several virtual terminals at the same time. The default is 6. (Ctrl + Alt + F7 to get back to X)

7. Ctrl + l (lowercase L)

Clear the terminal.

8. Ctrl + Alt + Backspace

Kill the X server. Use this if X crashes and you can’t exit it normally. If you’ve configured GDM to start automatically at bootup, this restarts the server and throws you back to the graphical login screen.

9. Ctrl + a

Move the cursor to the beginning of the current line. Usefull for those times you navigated all the way through 20 directories and forgot to add ‘cp’ to the beginning. Use this instead of the arrow keys.

10. Ctrl + e

Last but not least get that cursor back to the end of the line.

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