~ Tutorial 2 ~


Basic Linux Operations

Linux 101

Main reference: http://linuxcommand.org/learning_the_shell.php

Concepts to be delivered during tutorial:


azureuser@test-hpl:~$ pwd
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ ls
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ cd ..
azureuser@test-hpl:/home$ ls
azureuser  ubuntu
azureuser@test-hpl:/home$ cd ..
azureuser@test-hpl:/$ ls
bin   dev  home        lib    lost+found  mnt  proc  run   selinux  sys  usr  vmlinuz
boot  etc  initrd.img  lib64  media       opt  root  sbin  srv      tmp  var
azureuser@test-hpl:/$ pwd

NOTE: $ is the command prompt, after which you can type a command. After entering a command, there will be some output. Rule of thumb: read output carefully, esp. during more complex operations later. Linux command outputs are usually self-documenting.

Seeking for help

azureuser@test-hpl:/$ ls --help
Usage: ls [OPTION]... [FILE]...
List information about the FILEs (the current directory by default).
Sort entries alphabetically if none of -cftuvSUX nor --sort is specified.

Mandatory arguments to long options are mandatory for short options too.
  -a, --all                  do not ignore entries starting with .

NOTE: ... in the last line denotes omitted console outputs. Find the complete version by enter the corresponding command.

azureuser@test-hpl:/$ man ls

LS(1)                                               User Commands                                               LS(1)

       ls - list directory contents

       ls [OPTION]... [FILE]...

       List  information  about the FILEs (the current directory by default).  Sort entries alphabetically if none of
       -cftuvSUX nor --sort is specified.


              scale sizes by SIZE before printing them.  E.g., `--block-size=M' prints sizes in  units  of  1,048,576
              bytes.  See SIZE format below.
 Manual page ls(1) line 1 (press h for help or q to quit)

TIP: Use arrow keys or j/k to move around the manual page. Use / to search for a keyword. Press q to end.

What is the man command? Try man man

Basic file/dir operations

Make directories:

azureuser@test-hpl:~$ mkdir mydir
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ ls
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ cd mydir/
azureuser@test-hpl:~/mydir$ pwd
azureuser@test-hpl:~/mydir$ cd ..
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ ls
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ rmdir mydir
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ ls

Ceate and view text files:

azureuser@test-hpl:~$ echo "this is my first file" > myfile
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ ls
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ cat myfile 
this is my first file

echo prints the string to STDOUT. > redirects STDOUT to a file. More on IO redirection.

What is cat then? Try man or --help.

Move/Copy/Remove file:

azureuser@test-hpl:~$ ls
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ cat myfile 
this is my first file
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ cp myfile myfile2
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ ls
myfile  myfile2
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ cat myfile2
this is my first file
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ mv myfile myfile.moved
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ ls
myfile2  myfile.moved
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ rm myfile2
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ ls

TIP: Do more experiments like this. Use ls (probably with options like -a, -l) to inspect a dir. Use cat or less/more to inspect the content of a text file.

About filename:

  • Basically a flat string. No concept of "extension name". Though, people may have naming conventions sometime.
  • Files start with . is "hidden". Use ls -a to see them.

File transfer

Major methods:

  • scp/sftp under Linux/Mac
  • An open source and cross-platform SFTP client: FileZilla
  • An SFTP client under windows: WinSCP

Pick the one that suits you most.


  • Create a text file in your desktop. Upload it to the server. Verify it is same as the file you created locally.
  • Create a text file in your server. Download it to your desktop. Verify it is same as the file you created remotely.

File download from the Internet

azureuser@test-hpl:~$ mkdir try-wget
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ cd try-wget/
azureuser@test-hpl:~/try-wget$ wget 'https://github.com/hupili/agile-ir/raw/master/data/Shakespeare.tar.gz'
--2014-01-14 03:02:09--  https://github.com/hupili/agile-ir/raw/master/data/Shakespeare.tar.gz
Resolving github.com (github.com)...


azureuser@test-hpl:~/try-wget$ ls

Now you have downloaded Shakespeare's works, all in one compressed archive Shakespeare.tar.gz. Following is a shortcut to uncompress it:

azureuser@test-hpl:~/try-wget$ tar -xzvf Shakespeare.tar.gz 



What's -xzvf? Try man or --help.

NOTE: Some commands have shorthand notation for multiple options. In the above example, tar -xzvf YOUR_FILE is equivalent of tar -x -z -v -f YOUR_FILE. Try the latter one yourself.

EXERCISE: Navigate the data dir and operate on those files, e.g. cp, mv.

EXERCISE: Get familiar with tar, zip, gzip, bzip2. You are very likely to get others' data in those formats.

EXERCISE: Get familiar with wget options. A simple crawler can be obtained by wget -r START_URL.

EXERCISE: Try to use curl to download the same file. Most Linux distribution has wget and/or curl by default.

Suppose you have finished processing data. Cleanup as follows:

azureuser@test-hpl:~/try-wget$ ls
data  Shakespeare.tar.gz
azureuser@test-hpl:~/try-wget$ ls data/
play-12night.txt         play-titus.txt              sonnet-122.txt  sonnet-152.txt  sonnet-42.txt  sonnet-72.txt


play-tempest.txt         sonnet-120.txt              sonnet-150.txt  sonnet-40.txt   sonnet-70.txt
play-timonathens.txt     sonnet-121.txt              sonnet-151.txt  sonnet-41.txt   sonnet-71.txt
azureuser@test-hpl:~/try-wget$ rm -rf data/
azureuser@test-hpl:~/try-wget$ ls

rm -rf is a powerful command. Use with great care.

Execute an executable file

Write your first shell script

azureuser@test-hpl:~$ cat > hello.sh
echo "hello world. My first shell script!"
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ ls
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ cat hello.sh 
echo "hello world. My first shell script!"

cat > reads STDIN and redirect all the content to hello.sh. The second line echo "hello world. My first shell script!" is typed by you. After that press ctrl+d to end typing.

EXERCISE: Try this way to create more files. This is the simplest way to write small text files without using a text-based editor.

Make it executable:

azureuser@test-hpl:~$ ls -l hello.sh 
-rw-rw-r-- 1 azureuser azureuser 43 Jan 14 07:26 hello.sh
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ chmod a+x hello.sh 
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ ls -l hello.sh 
-rwxrwxr-x 1 azureuser azureuser 43 Jan 14 07:26 hello.sh

The x character indicates that the file is executable. Read more.

Execute it:

azureuser@test-hpl:~$ ./hello.sh 
hello world. My first shell script!
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ /home/azureuser/hello.sh 
hello world. My first shell script!

NOTE: One often ignored syntax: If the executable is under current working directory, prefix it with ./. Or else, the system will try to locate that command in PATH.

About shell commands (optional)

The commands you use, e.g. ls, cd, mkdir, are just some pre-installed executables in the system. You can find their location and verify that they are executable:

azureuser@test-hpl:~$ which ls
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ ls -l /bin/ls
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 105840 Nov 19  2012 /bin/ls

which itself is an executable file:

azureuser@test-hpl:~$ which which 
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ ls -l /usr/bin/which
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 Mar 29  2012 /usr/bin/which -> /bin/which
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ ls -l /bin/which 
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 946 Mar 29  2012 /bin/which

Automate your work by shell

Create a script, download.sh , with the following content.

# Clean previously downloaded data
rm -f Shakespeare.tar.gz
rm -rf data/
# Download
wget 'https://github.com/hupili/agile-ir/raw/master/data/Shakespeare.tar.gz'
# Uncompress 
tar -xzvf Shakespeare.tar.gz 
# list files
ls data/

TIP: No need to type in. Use cat > and copy paste the content into your terminal. The paste operations are different across terminals.

Content after # is comment.

Now execute the script:

azureuser@test-hpl:~$ chmod a+x download.sh 
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ ./download.sh 


The result is same as that when you type those commands in shell one by one directly. By writing scripts, you can automate tedious daily jobs. You will see some of this in the later part of this course.

EXERCISE: Shell scripts also supports common programming constructs, e.g. condition, loop, etc. Try to self-learn them from the Internet. Google "bash script" or something similar.

Linux 102 (optional)

Those are optional in the first tutorial due to time limit but we will encounter them in following tutorials. Just-In-Time instructions will be given but it's strongly recommended that you warm up at the earliest convenience.

Text editor -- VIM and others

With linux 101, you can at least operate in the following way:

  • Write codes in your desktop locally with you favourite GUI editor.
  • Upload codes and data to that Linux server.
  • Execute.
  • Download result and analyze.

This upload/download cycle causes considerable overheads when you need to frequently modify codes or configuraiton files.

VIM is a powerful text editor. There are many tutorials and guides online.

Emacs is also a widely available and highly customizable text editor. It's interesting to learn some Emacs basic operations and concepts.

Sometimes, nano will be fired up to input cerntain information.

Text editors are just tools. Pick one that is most convenient to you.

Package management

Cheatsheet for Ubuntu:

  • sudo apt-get install PACKAGE
  • sudo apt-get purge PACKAGE
  • sudo apt-file search FILE_NAME

Ubuntu will friendly prompt you for package installation. e.g. installing Git

azureuser@test-hpl:~$ git
The program 'git' is currently not installed.  You can install it by typing:
sudo apt-get install git
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ sudo apt-get install git
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree


After this operation, 15.2 MB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]? y
Get:1 http://azure.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ precise/main liberror-perl all 0.17-1 [23.8 kB]


Setting up git-man (1: ...
Setting up git (1: ...
azureuser@test-hpl:~$ git
usage: git [--version] [--exec-path[=<path>]] [--html-path] [--man-path] [--info-path]
           [-p|--paginate|--no-pager] [--no-replace-objects] [--bare]


   rm         Remove files from the working tree and from the index
   show       Show various types of objects
   status     Show the working tree status
   tag        Create, list, delete or verify a tag object signed with GPG

See 'git help <command>' for more information on a specific command.


Use ls -al and you will see many dotfiles (e.g. .bashrc). .XXXrc is the convention for customized configurations. You can bulid the best working environment for you via those configuration files, e.g. change color, add command alias, etc.

Try to search the Internet and do some customization. Many people put their own configs online, example. You can get some pointers from those repos.

Outcome of This Tutorial

  • You have a feel of IaaS via Azure.
  • You can operate a Linux server using shell.
  • You can upload/download code/data to/from the remote Linux server.
  • You have basic idea of a shell script and the use of it for automation.
  • You feel comfortable reading CLI examples.