Locate Your Home Directory

Today’s article will not be long, nor will it be a complicated article, as we learn how to locate your home directory. This is something you probably already know, but you may encounter a strange system where things are a little different. It can happen.

More importantly, this article is going to try something new. Rather than a very long article, it’s going to be a short article. Well, shorter than most – assuming I stop puffing it up with text such as this. Why? Well, I want to see the reception and the statistics.

So, basically, every user account you’re likely to use should have a home directory. This is where the user’s files, customizations, and settings reside. Not every user has a home directory, but the accounts you’d normally use (that is log into and operate) will likely have such a directory. However, you don’t have to have a home directory – though you can expect some weirdness without one.

How To: Create a New User Without a /home Directory

The usual home directory will be in /home/<user> and that’s pretty much the standard we’ve come to know and love. You really shouldn’t need to locate your home directory, but there comes a time when you just might want to.

So, that’s what this article covers. It covers how to…

Locate Your Home Directory:

So, we’ll be doing this in the terminal. That’s a nice place to do things. Press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open. If it doesn’t open, pick a better distro!

Nah, just open it from your application menu and love the distro you’ve chosen.

We’ll just be covering a couple of quick ways to locate your home directory. That’s all this article is and there’s no reason to turn it into a longer article. We’ll do them both with the echo command. See man echo for more details.

First, you can try this command:

As you should know by now, the tilde (~) is a shortcut for your home directory and it works just fine in this use case.

There’s another echo command you can memorize, but slightly longer:

That command uses both the echo command and an environment variable, specifically $HOME (obviously). This will happily echo the results, sending them to your standard output. This can be quite useful if you’re into scripting or the like.

See also:

How To: Show All Environment Variables

I told you that this wouldn’t be long or complicated. You can now locate your home directory from the Linux terminal.


As I said, I figured I’d try the opposite of what I’ve been trying lately. My most recent articles have been quite long and quite detailed. I like them. I enjoy writing them. This time around, it seemed like a good idea to try something different with a subject that benefits from brevity.

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Set A Timeout Value In cURL

Today we’re going to discuss a topic you probably won’t ever need but is worth knowing, we’re going to set a timeout value in cURL. We’re telling the cURL application to quit trying if it takes too long. I suppose it is something worth knowing, so we might as well learn it.

How often do you need this? Well, that depends on you and your workflow. Me? Well, let’s just say that it’s in my notes. I’m not sure that I’ve ever actually used it productively, but it is in my notes. Now? Well, now it’s in your notes! Or, at least it’s here and searchable should you ever actually need to set a timeout value in cURL.

So, what is cURL? I’ve written about it before (some links to follow) but it’s a tool to transfer a URL. That’s exactly what the man page says. Specifically, it says:

If you want to see what the HTML looks like for this site, you can run this:

(That’s not particularly helpful, but you can do it.)

I mentioned that I’d written about cURL before and it may be of some benefit to read these articles (or at least skim them) if you’re unfamiliar with the cURL application.

Let’s Have a Limited Look at Linux’s cURL Application
How To: Make ‘curl’ Ignore Certificate Errors
How To: Add A New Line With CURL

You can see a couple of useful applications of cURL:

Weather In The Terminal? We can do that!
How To: Find Your IP Address Through Your Terminal

See? So, cURL has some use – even for a regular desktop user. If any of those things take too long, you can set a timeout value for cURL, which is what this article is all about.

Set A Timeout Value In cURL:

cURL is a terminal-based tool. Sure, some GUI applications use it in the background, but it’s a terminal tool. As such, you are going to need a terminal available. You should be able to press CTRL + ALT + T to access a terminal. If not, open one from your application menu.

With your terminal open, the syntax for setting one of the timeout values in cURL is pretty basic and easy to understand. Try this:

The time_limit value is in seconds. If you wanted to load the content of this site’s home page and set a timeout value of 10 seconds, you’d run this command:

(Again, not very useful.)

But, that timeout value is just for time-to-first-byte. So, the server will need to respond within 10 seconds else the cURL process will shut down.

There’s another timeout value for cURL. You can set the overall time limit, that is the entire process (including transferring of data) must be completed within that timeframe. If it isn’t, the cURL process will shut itself down. The syntax for that time of timeout value would be like so:

So, if you wanted to make sure the entire transfer of data was done in under 60 seconds, your command would look like this:

(Again, not very useful – but it should certainly take less than 60 seconds!)

I suppose you might find some of this useful if you’re cURLing files more weighty than a web page. You can cURL actual files and write that data to your terminal’s standard output. That’s what cURL does, after all. So, you might find a use for this command.


Well, this wasn’t a very long article. It doesn’t cover a great deal and probably won’t be useful to 99 out of 100 people. That’s okay. Not all of my articles are meant for the 99% and sometimes you just gotta write what you feel like writing. This is what I felt like writing. It probably won’t do well for search engine results and that’s okay. Someday, somebody will want this information, type it into Google, and find this site. Or another one just like it, I suppose…

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Send A Message To Another Logged In User

Today’s article might be useful for system administrators or just for fun, as we learn to send a message to another logged-in user (in the terminal, of course). This shouldn’t be a complicated or lengthy article, though many of my recent articles have been significantly longer than usual.

If you’re just a regular desktop user, this might not be all that interesting, but you can still test it if you want. Besides, you never know when you will want to send a message to another logged-in user! It could happen.

Let’s say you have a server with people logged in via SSH. This could also be a single computer with multiple people logged in, should you wish to test this and play around with sending a message to another logged-in user. Let’s also say that you want to send them a message in the terminal.

Perhaps you’re going to log them off? Maybe you’re going to reboot the server? Who knows, maybe you want to give them some sort of directions and the easiest way to do so is to send them a message that pops up in their terminal. You can do that!

We’ll be using a few tools for this. None of them are all that complicated and these little tools (do one thing and do it well) are tools that make the Linux world go around. 

For starters, we’ll be using the ‘who’ command.

who – show who is logged on

We will also be making use of the ‘awk’ command.

gawk – pattern scanning and processing language

Next, we’ll be using the ‘echo’ command.

echo – display a line of text

There will also be the ‘write’ command.

write — send a message to another user

We will also be using a pipe. We will pipe the output from one command to another command. We’ve done that lots of times on this site, so regular readers will already be familiar with a pipe and how it works.

Briefly speaking, a pipe is just one way to take the output from one command for use in another command. It’s a pretty handy tool to add to your Linux toolbox if you haven’t already done so. It’s a simple tool, which is a good thing.

If all of the above looks complicated, don’t be alarmed. It’s not all that complicated and the commands I share will be simple enough for most anyone to follow. You’ll be able to adjust them to your needs quite easily.

Send A Message To Another Logged In User:

As mentioned in the intro, you’ll want an open terminal for this. So, open your default terminal emulator. You can usually just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal will open. This isn’t always true, but it’s true in many cases. You will otherwise need to open the terminal on your own.

With your terminal now open, let’s find out who is logged in. To do that, we only need the following command:

However, we only care about the first two fields, so let’s narrow that output with the following command:

The output from that command is all we need for the next part. You use the first column to identify the username. That makes them easy to identify, or at least easier for most folks.

The other column is the 2nd one. That identifies their login method, basically which terminal they’re using, and is also what we will use to specify the recipient of our message. Next, to send a message to another logged-in user, you use a command similar to this:

Or, take a look at this:

identify and send a message to a logged in user.
See? It’s not complicated. It’s harder to describe than it is to do.

So, in that case, the syntax of the command is easy, it’s just like this:

You’ll notice that the output of the command isn’t on that screen. It was sent to the other screen, the screen where that user was logged in (specifically over SSH). It quite happily sends the message to the user logged in at that location.

You can’t use usernames alone, as it’s possible for more than one person to use the same username. This method identifies the user and the method/location they’ve used to log in. It’s a pretty handy command like that. It might look a bit complex, but it isn’t.


So, if you’ve ever wanted to send a message to another logged-in user, you can now do that. It’s easier done than explained, but hopefully, you get the gist of it and can apply it to your personal computer usage.  

It’s not always that easy to come up with ideas for articles. I often pull them from my notes, but my notes are a mess, and not all of them would make good articles. If there’s something you’d like covered, and I know the subject, feel free to contact me and let me know. Of course, don’t forget that I take guest articles when they’re about Linux.

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 site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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How To: Add A New Line With CURL

Today’s article isn’t going to be all that long and it’s definitely not going to be complicated, as we just discuss how to add a new line with curl. It’s just an annoyance factor and something I was reminded of today. Lacking a better idea, I decided I’d use this annoyance and recollection as a reason to write an article about how to add a new line with curl.

First, this obviously requires a terminal.

Second, this obviously requires curl. You almost certainly have curl installed, so you won’t have to install anything. 

If you’re curious, you’ll find that the curl man page defines the application as:

curl – transfer a URL

You’ll understand why I’d use that in a second, but you can imagine that it’s a pretty handy tool to have in your Linux toolbox. We’ve previously used curl in many articles. Here’s a sampling of those articles:

Let’s Have a Limited Look at Linux’s cURL Application
Weather In The Terminal? We can do that!
How To: Find Your IP Address Through Your Terminal

… and more!

So, in this case, I show ads on the site. To do this, Google relies on a file known as ‘ads.txt’ being in your web’s root folder (often called ‘public_html’). If the file is not there, there’s an ad inventory issue and Google won’t show ads.

Well, if you read the previous article you’d know that there was an outage. During this outage, it appeared that the site was still reachable – except it wasn’t. It was during this time that AdSense decided to check and see if the ‘ads.txt’ file is there. (This is nothing private. Everyone using AdSense has an ads.txt file.)

Because of this, I decided to verify that the ads.txt file existed and contained the appropriate information. To do this, I simply used the following command:

It gave me the answer I wanted, but I disliked the formatting of the output. But, it was enough for me to determine that the file existed and that I just had to wait for Google to confirm this.

The formatting was horrible. I’ll show you an image in the next section and you’ll see…

Add A New Line With curl:

So, when I saw the output from the above command (feel free to run it on your computer), it just ran the line into the next prompt. I had to dig through my ~/bash_history file because I couldn’t remember how to fix the formatting.

A picture is probably going to describe this best. In the picture, you’ll see the ugly formatting and you’ll see the solution.

adding a new line to the curl output
As you can see, the second command has a much nicer output.

So, to make sure you have a new line, you use the -w (write-out) flag and add the character for a new line in quotes – which is "\n". It’d look like this:

As you can see (and I hit the enter button between commands to start on a fresh new line) the output is much nicer. So, instead of curl starting a new line, a command entry line as it were, you’re starting with a nice fresh new line.

I messed with this way too long before I started digging into my bash history to find other curl commands used over time. Eventually, I found it, but I’d already verified that the file existed and that Google would notice the next time they checked.


Well, it’s not the greatest of articles – but it’s useful if you want to know how to add a new line with curl. It’s a much tidier output this way. I just need to remember to do it without having to dig through my bash history each time I want to have a clear curl output.

Meh… I’m sure it’ll eventually be handy for someone…

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Let’s Play Around With The Linux Shell.

Today’s article is a bit of a mystery, as I’m writing it and not sure how it’s going to end up – but it will be about the Linux shell. I’ll try to make it approachable, even for beginners. Let’s see where the article takes us!

I think I’d caution most beginners to stick with what came with their distro (most likely Bash), rather than straying into the world of different shells. Wait until you have a few more miles in your Linux shoes before running to try new shells. It’ll make support easier if you don’t have to compound things by using an alternative shell. Once you’re up to speed, there are some nifty choices.

This seemed like the perfect question to pose ChatGPT. I’ve found a way to make AI useful – or so it seems to me. I asked the AI to explain the Linux shell in two paragraphs. This is what they had to say:

A Linux shell is a command-line interface (CLI) program that allows users to interact with the Linux operating system by entering commands. It acts as an intermediary between the user and the kernel, which is the core of the operating system. The shell provides a text-based environment where users can execute various commands to perform tasks such as navigating the file system, running programs, managing processes, and configuring system settings.

The shell interprets the commands entered by the user and translates them into instructions that the kernel can understand and execute. It also provides features like command completion, history, and scripting capabilities, allowing users to automate tasks and create powerful scripts. There are different types of shells available in Linux, such as Bash (Bourne Again SHell), which is the default and most widely used shell in Linux distributions. Other popular shells include Zsh (Z Shell), Ksh (Korn Shell), and Csh (C Shell), each offering its own set of features and functionalities. Overall, the Linux shell is a fundamental component of the operating system, providing users with a flexible and efficient way to interact with the system.

That looks like a pretty good description to me. If you have any questions, you can certainly leave a comment. You know where to find me so that you can ask questions most anywhere.

Hmm… As I said, I’m not sure where this article is headed. We’ll have to see…

Some Stuff About The Linux Shell:

Pretty much every single one of the new folks reading this will have something in common with those who have used Linux for years. You’re almost certainly using Bash as your shell. Bash stands for Bourne Again Shell. Bash is the Linux equivalent of Bourne Shell that came with Unix back in ye olden days.

If you want, you can open a terminal at this point. Odds are that you have another shell or two available. You can list your shells with the following command:

If you don’t already know what shell you’re using, you can find out quickly enough. Just run this command to find out which shell you’re using:

Let’s pretend you’re using Ubuntu and want to install a new shell. Let’s pretend you are interested in ZSH. That is ‘Z Shell’ and is an alternative that you might consider. The first step would be to install ZSH and you’d do so like this:

Follow the prompts and when you next run cat /etc/shells again, you’ll see that ZSH is an option. Pay attention to the path. It will look like /usr/bin/zsh and you can change to that shell quickly enough. Just run the following command:

Or, for a better example:

You’ll then want to reboot your system. That’s easily done with:

That should do the trick for pretty much everyone, though you’ll need to use your package manager if you’re not using apt with Debian, Ubuntu, Mate, or similar. It’s easy enough to switch to a new Linux shell – but you should probably have a good reason for doing so.

By the way, feel free to leave a comment if you use a different shell, preferably explaining why you’ve chosen to do so. I’ve played with different shells and that was entirely my reason for doing so, I just wanted to play around with them. I stick with Bash pretty much exclusively, or whatever’s installed by default.

Again, I’d caution you newer users to skip this article and just use this pile of words to learn about shells in the first place. If you’ve been using Linux for a while and want to learn something new (or have a specific reason to do so) then you can change your shell as much as you’d like. It’s your computer, you can do anything you darned well want with it!


So, I wasn’t sure what this article was going to look like. I just figured I’d do an article about the Linux shell. We all know at least one beginner is going to start mucking about with alternative shells, at least this way we can tell them that we suggested they wait to do so.

Then again, how often did we wait to do so? How often did we go mucking around with things best left untouched until we learned better? At the end of the day, Linux is an OS that suits those who like to tinker, but she can be a harsh mistress when you’re still learning. And, again, how many of us learned by breaking things? I reckon many of us did and that’s how we got here.

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 site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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