Sort Files By Size (In The Terminal)

In today’s article, we’re going to cover something nice and simple; how to sort files by size in the terminal. This is something everyone should know, because sorting files is often a prerequisite to understanding and managing said files.

Besides, not all the articles have to be something complicated. The tagline for Linux-Tips is “Getting you up to speed!” It’s supposed to be aimed squarely at new Linux users. The problem is, many of those articles are boring to write and the 2nd largest group of readers aren’t really beginners. 

So, yeah…

Today, we’ll have a nice, basic article that tells you how to sort files by size – in the terminal. In fact, some of the more regular users may not have these commands memorized. Now’s a good time to learn ’em.

We’ll be using the ‘ls’ command for this. It is said that you shouldn’t parse the output of ‘ls’ for anything important. It’s bad practice for reasons I think I’ve touched on before. However, you can safely use ‘ls’ for this process as it’s just sorting the files by size and doing so by itself.

For those that don’t know, ‘ls’ has a ton of options. It’s a tool used to show the contents of a directory. You can use man ls to get more information about the command. We’ve previously covered:

Let’s Use ‘ls’ To Sort Files By Time

Well, today we’ll use ‘ls’ to …

Sort Files By Size:

This article requires an open terminal, like many other articles on this site. If you don’t know how to open the terminal, you can do so with your keyboard – just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open.

You might just as well stay right there in your default location – which should be your home directory. Feel free to switch to a new directory, but you really won’t need to. It’s an easy command. 

First, we’ll show the output sorted to show the largest files first:

Of course, you can reverse that sort order and show the smallest files first. To do that, you just add -r (reverse) to your flags, like so:

That command should show you files listed with the smallest ones first and that’s really all there is to this article. Well, there’s the closure section – but nobody reads those.

Closure:

And, well, this particular closure section won’t have anything truly interesting or different in it. After all, this is just a simple article that shows you how to sort files by size. ‘Snot that much more to it. ‘Snot that much more that I can add.

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Let’s Zip A Directory In The Linux Terminal

Today, we’re going to zip a directory in the Linux terminal. This isn’t a very complicated task, but it’s worth covering. It’s also not something you’re likely to do every day, but it’s bound to be useful to some of you. You’re eventually going to want to share a directory’s worth of files with someone!

Why zip a directory? This is Linux, we deal with .tar.gz!

Well, in the real world, you might just want to share files with other people. They’ll have no idea what to do with a .tar.gz file – but they’ll know exactly what to do with a .zip file.

More importantly, pretty much every operating system on the planet can open a .zip file. Even way back with the Amiga and Atari systems, you were able  to open .zip files.

As an added bonus, you probably already have the utility to compress files into .zip files and won’t need to install anything! So, you won’t need to install anything and you’ll be able to share the resulting files with pretty much anyone on the planet. What’s not to love?

Heck, you don’t even need to install an application on Windows or MacOS to open .zip files. As a quick test, I can even open them with a file management application on Android. I’m not sure if Android also deals with them by default or if it’s a function of the file manager. Still, you can open .zip files just fine on Android.

With all those great things, you might just as well learn how to zip a directory in the Linux terminal. I promise, it’s really easy.

Zip A Directory:

This article requires an open terminal, like many other articles on this site. If you don’t know how to open the terminal, you can do so with your keyboard – just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open.

Chances are very good that you won’t have to install ‘zip’ to get this to work. You can find out quickly enough by just typing:

That’ll likely tell you which zip and where it’s located. If not, you’ll need to install it from your default repositories. I expect very few people will need to do that.

Now to zip a directory…

You can also zip a directory recursively, by using the ‘r’ flag:

This is not to be confused with the R flag, which will recursively compress the files in the folder – but only those files that were specified, such as from this example command in the man page:

That’d take all the files in the current directory that ended in ‘.c’ and compress them into a file called foo. That’s not really what we’re after, nor is it what the article is about. Either way, while you’re exploring, be sure to check the man page. This is one of the biggest man pages you’ll likely come across and there are a ton of options beyond just simply letting you zip a directory.

Closure:

There you have it. You can now zip a directory – such as a directory of pictures to share with your loved ones who are still not using Linux. It’s not terribly difficult, but it’s a useful skill to have and you never know when you’ll want to share a bunch of files with other people.

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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Change Ownership Of Files And Folders

Today, we’ll be covering how to change ownership of files and folders. This is a pretty basic task and one every Linux user should know. This needn’t be terribly complicated, so this article will explain all you really need to know about changing ownership of files and folders.

When dealing with file management, permissions are important. It’s a security matter and a usability matter. You can assign various file and folder permissions, such as read and write permissions, a subject for a different article. However, files and folders all should have owners – owners who can do anything they want with the file or folder.

Curiously, your account should not always be the owner. While maybe not all that intuitive, you shouldn’t have ownership of all the files. This is why you have to use elevated permissions to perform certain tasks. This is to keep things segmented and secure.

Remember, Linux is designed to be a multi-user operating system. That’s not just human users, but different processes and applications may also be associated with users. For example, look at all the users on your system by running the following command in your terminal emulator:

You can also see all the groups on your system with this command:

Obviously, if a user is a member of a group they share permissions with that group. Files also only have one owner and one associated group, of course. So, if you want two people to have control over a file, one way to do that would be to make sure they’re both members of the same group. There’s all sorts of creative things you can do with permissions. This article will be covering just one aspect, it’ll be about how you can …

Change Ownership Of Files And Folders:

Like oh so many of these articles, this one requires an open terminal. You can do so using only your keyboard – just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open.

Go right ahead and stay in your home directory. You can check the various files and their permissions with the following:

The output of that command will show you the user and group, with the two being listed in that order as in the image below:

ll listing user and groups
See? I even gave you handy arrows. The order is owner:group, to repeat myself.

To change the owner, the format is:

To change the group, the format is:

If you want to recursively take ownership, you need the -R flag. For that, you’d want something that looks a bit like this:

You can actually just use chown to change both the owner and group at the same time. You’ll most often do this with your own user and group, so I’ll show the command that way:

As you can guess, the -R flag will work there and an asterisk will cover all the files and folders within that directory. Obviously, this applies to folders and not to files.

Closure:

There you have it. You have yet another article and this one has hopefully taught you how to change ownership of files and folders. It may not be one of the most interesting articles, but it’s a skill you’ll eventually want to have and another tool for your Linux toolbox. 

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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How To: Show Hidden Files And Folders

Today, you’ll read an article that tells you how to show hidden files and folders (in Linux, of course). This is something everyone should know. This is a basic skill that you’re almost certain to need if you make the decision to use Linux.

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to show hidden files and folders. You’ll see…

First, I should probably explain what hidden files and folders are. They’re files and folders that start with a period. So .foo.txt is a hidden file and .bar could be a hidden directory. One should remember that Linux is, by design, a multi-user system. With that in mind, having hidden files makes sense – if you don’t want those files to be accidentally (or maliciously) edited.

Any files or folders that begins with a period will be a hidden file. If you’re new to Linux, you might want to leave them hidden until you’re a bit more comfortable working with system files. Or not… It’s your system, you do what you want with it.

In a GUI file manager, you can usually figure out how to show hidden files and folders pretty easily. Sadly, it’s not universal in a GUI. Look in the right click menu, under the “View” option, or in the application’s preferences. It’s also often ALT + H and I want to say I’ve even seen it be ALT + F4. Look around, you’ll find it.

This article is more about showing those hidden files and folders in the terminal. It’s a really easy command and won’t take too long to explain it to you. So, enough preamble, let’s begin.

Show Hidden Files And Folders:

This article requires an open terminal, like many other articles on this site. If you don’t know how to open the terminal, you can do so with your keyboard – just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open.

We’ll stay right in the default directory, your home directory. If you’re not currently in your home folder,  you can get there with:

Your home folder should have all sorts of hidden files and folders. First, let’s see your home directory without showing the hidden files and folders:

Unless you’re in the habit of storing files in your home directory, you should have a fairly tidy list of folders and files that you’re likely already familiar with. 

Now, let’s try again – this time showing hidden files and folders:

Or, you can get a more easy to read output with this command (and you get more information with it):

If you want to see it in action, you can try this command:

Now, if you use the ls command you won’t see that file. If you use the ls -a command you’ll see the hidden file that you created called .foo.txt. This of works with directories, as they too can be hidden.

Yup, that’s it. That’s today’s article. See? I told you it was easy.

Closure:

Indeed, it is an easy article – and one most of my readers will already know. This one is aimed squarely at the new user who has yet to learn how to show hidden files and folders. It’s a pretty important skill to learn, and it’s also important to know which ones you probably shouldn’t edit. So, judicious use is important.

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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How To: Find Your Man Pages’ Location On Disk

Today’s article is going to teach you how to find your man pages’ location on disk. It may not be a very useful skill, but it’s one that will come in handy in a future article. (That’s called ‘foreshadowing’!) Well, it seems likely that it’ll come in handy with a future article.

By the way, if you’re curious about why the first lines in these articles are often ‘forced’, it’s because of search engine optimization. You can blame the search engines, but it works.

Many of you will be familiar with the which command. You can use that to locate a binary for an application. For example, you can go with:

Which will output something along the lines of:

And that’s great. If that’s what you need to know, that’s what you need to know. However, what if you want to also know where your man page file is located? 

It should come as no surprise that Linux will happily spit that information out, so long as you know the correct incantations. And, for that, you have Linux Tips – where I’m gonna tell you how to find your man pages’ location.

Man Pages Location:

This article requires an open terminal, like many other articles on this site. If you don’t know how to open the terminal, you can do so with your keyboard – just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open.

The tool we’re going to be using is similar to which, and even spits out the same information. The tool in question whereis and the man page describes it as:

whereis – locate the binary, source, and manual page files for a command

As you can see, it’s a pretty simple command. It will also only show you the source if you actually have the source. In most cases, you have compiled binaries and that’s what your system uses. It’ll happily locate the binary just like the which command does.

So, let’s test it… Hmm… Let’s test it with the ‘ls’ command:

whereis command in action
See? It does exactly what i told you it would do! That’s why I make the big bucks!

So, if you want to know where your man pages are located for a specific applications, this is an easy way to do that. Obviously, it’s the 2nd bit of information. Though, I suppose if you only want the output to contain the path to the man pages, you could use a command like this:

That will just spit out the path to the man page, if that’s all you want to see. Try it with a few different commands and you’ll lock it into your memory – ’cause you never know when it’s going to come in handy.

Closure:

And there you have it… You have another article! This is just one of many articles, so feel free to browse around. You might even learn something new! I’ve officially written so many of these things that I can’t actually remember them all. I legit need to search first and make sure I haven’t already written the article. (I probably should have devised a system to avoid this, but the search function appears to be pretty good and effective.)

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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Linux Tips
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