3. Looking Around

Logged in as an ordinary user, look around and try out some commands that will access the sources of help and information within FreeBSD.

Here are some commands and what they do:


Tells you who you are!


Shows you where you are—the current working directory.


Lists the files in the current directory.

ls -F

Lists the files in the current directory with a * after executables, a / after directories, and an @ after symbolic links.

ls -l

Lists the files in long format—size, date, permissions.

ls -a

Lists hidden dot files with the others. If you are root, the dot files show up without the -a switch.


Changes directories. cd .. backs up one level; note the space after cd. cd /usr/local goes there. cd ~ goes to the home directory of the person logged in—e.g., /usr/home/jack. Try cd /cdrom, and then ls, to find out if your CDROM is mounted and working.

less filename

Lets you look at a file (named filename) without changing it. Try less /etc/fstab. Type q to quit.

cat filename

Displays filename on screen. If it is too long and you can see only the end of it, press ScrollLock and use the up-arrow to move backward; you can use ScrollLock with manual pages too. Press ScrollLock again to quit scrolling. You might want to try cat on some of the dot files in your home directory—cat .cshrc, cat .login, cat .profile.

You will notice aliases in .cshrc for some of the ls commands (they are very convenient). You can create other aliases by editing .cshrc. You can make these aliases available to all users on the system by putting them in the system-wide csh configuration file, /etc/csh.cshrc.

All FreeBSD documents are available for download at https://download.freebsd.org/ftp/doc/

Questions that are not answered by the documentation may be sent to <freebsd-questions@FreeBSD.org>.
Send questions about this document to <freebsd-doc@FreeBSD.org>.