ls-command-in-linux-to-display-content-of-directory

ls command in Linux with examples complete Tutorial for Beginners

The ls command is one of the basic and most used commands that any Linux user/you should know. you can use to list information about files and directories within the Linux/Unix file system.

The ls command in Linux is pre-installed on all Linux/Unix based distributions (Operating System).

I believe, you must know, how to use ls command when you get into the command prompt of Linux Operating System.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to use the ls command in Linux with appropriate practical examples.

I will try to provide you a piece of detailed information with explanations of the most common ls options.

Again ls is a Linux shell command that lists directory contents of files and directories. See the following explanation and examples of ls command in Linux:

Use ls command without any option:

When you use ls command with no option, It will print a list of files and directories in a bare format where You won’t be able to view details like file types, size, modified date and time, permission and links, etc.

$ls

[[email protected] ~]$ ls
data  Desktop  Documents  Downloads  file1  file2  file3  Music  Pictures  Public  root-top-ps.txt  Templates  Videos
[[email protected] ~]$ 

In the above result, you can see two color of text, blue and black. Blue color indicate towards directory other for file.

Most used options of ls command in Linux

As I have told you, Linux user use ls command daily basis and frequently even though, you may not aware and never use all the ls option available.

So I am going to explain some important options. you can use following command to see available options:

$ls –help

You can use man command to know more about ls command in Linux.

$man ls

Shows version of ls command

If you want to check version of ls command then use –version option. see the the following syntax:

[[email protected] ~]$ ls --version
ls (GNU coreutils) 8.30
Copyright (C) 2018 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later .
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

Written by Richard M. Stallman and David MacKenzie.
[[email protected] ~]$ 

Print List View by ls command


Here, ls -l (-l is character not one) shows file or directory, size, modified date and time, file or folder name and owner of file and its permission.

ls -l

[[email protected] ~]$ ls -l
total 16
drwxrwxr-x. 3 vijay vijay   49 Apr 23 08:59 data
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay   25 Apr 16 12:50 Desktop
drwxrwxr-x. 2 vijay vijay    6 Apr  6 10:57 Documents
drwxr-xr-x. 9 vijay vijay   93 Apr  6 12:17 Downloads
-rw-rw-r--. 1 vijay vijay    0 Apr 23 08:36 file1
-rw-rw-r--. 1 vijay vijay   92 Apr 23 08:48 file2
-rw-r--r--. 1 vijay vijay  119 Apr 23 08:55 file3
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay    6 Mar 21 11:17 Music
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay  100 Apr 22 08:45 Pictures
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay    6 Mar 21 11:17 Public
-rw-rw-r--. 1 vijay vijay 6650 Apr 16 11:40 root-top-ps.txt
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay    6 Mar 21 11:17 Templates
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay    6 Mar 21 11:17 Videos
[[email protected] ~]$ 
drwxrwxr-x. 3 vijay vijay   49 Apr 23 08:59 data

1st Character – First character specifies the type of the file.

In the example above, starting character is ‘d’ and this indicates that this is a folder, and the hyphen (-) in the 1st character indicates that this is a normal file.

Following are the possible file type options in the 1st character of the ls -l output.
Field Explanation

– normal file
d : directory
s : socket file
l : link file

  • Field 1 – File Permissions: After the 1 character, first field is started, it has 9 character specifies the files permission. The every 3 characters specifies read, write, execute permissions for user(root), group and others respectively in order. If all three permissions are given to user(root), group and others, the format looks like -rwxrwxrwx
  • Field 2 – Number of links: Second field specifies the number of links for that file. In this example, 3 indicates only 3 link to this file.
  • Field 3 – Owner: Third field specifies owner of the file. In this example, this file is owned by username ‘vijay’.
  • Field 4 – Group: Fourth field specifies the group of the file. In this example, this file belongs to ”vijay’ group.
  • Field 5 – Size: Fifth field specifies the size of file in bytes. In this example, ‘49’ indicates the file size in bytes.
  • Field 6 – Last modified date and time: Sixth field specifies the date and time of the last modification of the folder. In this example, ‘Apr 23 08:59’ specifies the last modification time of the file.
  • Field 7 – File/Folder name: The last field is the name of the file. In this example, the file name is 1.c.

View Hidden Files and folders

ls command is very powerful command, you can use it to view hidden files and folders.

In Linux hidden files are started with ‘.’ you can list all files including hidden file starting with ‘.‘. Use the follwoing syntax to view the hidden files

[[email protected] ~]$ ls -a
.              data       .ICEauthority    Templates
..             Desktop    .local           .vboxclient-display.pid
.bash_history  Documents  .mozilla         .vboxclient-display-svga-x11.pid
.bash_logout   Downloads  Music            .vboxclient-draganddrop.pid
.bash_profile  .esd_auth  Pictures         .vboxclient-seamless.pid
.bashrc        file1      .pki             Videos
.cache         file2      Public           .viminfo
.config        file3      root-top-ps.txt
[[email protected] ~]$

View Files with Human Readable Format


You can use the combination of -lh option, to pring sizes in human readable format.

ls -lh

[[email protected] ~]$ ls -lh
total 16K
drwxrwxr-x. 3 vijay vijay   49 Apr 23 08:59 data
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay   25 Apr 16 12:50 Desktop
drwxrwxr-x. 2 vijay vijay    6 Apr  6 10:57 Documents
drwxr-xr-x. 9 vijay vijay   93 Apr  6 12:17 Downloads
-rw-rw-r--. 1 vijay vijay    0 Apr 23 08:36 file1
-rw-rw-r--. 1 vijay vijay   92 Apr 23 08:48 file2
-rw-r--r--. 1 vijay vijay  119 Apr 23 08:55 file3
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay    6 Mar 21 11:17 Music
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay  147 Apr 23 12:45 Pictures
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay    6 Mar 21 11:17 Public
-rw-rw-r--. 1 vijay vijay 6.5K Apr 16 11:40 root-top-ps.txt
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay    6 Mar 21 11:17 Templates
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay    6 Mar 21 11:17 Videos
[[email protected] ~]$ 

List Directories with ‘/’ Character at the end

You can use ls command followed by -F option to add the ‘/’ Character at the end each directory.

ls -F

[[email protected] ~]$ ls -F
data/     Documents/  file1  file3   Pictures/  root-top-ps.txt  Videos/
Desktop/  Downloads/  file2  Music/  Public/    Templates/
[[email protected] ~]$ 

List Files in Reverse Order

The following command with ls -r option display files and directories in reverse order.

[[email protected] ~]$ ls -r
Videos     root-top-ps.txt  Pictures  file3  file1      Documents  data
Templates  Public           Music     file2  Downloads  Desktop
[[email protected] ~]$ 

Recursively list Sub-Directories

ls -R option will list very long listing directory trees. See an example of output of the command.

[[email protected] ~]$ ls -R
.:
data     Documents  file1  file3  Pictures  root-top-ps.txt  Videos
Desktop  Downloads  file2  Music  Public    Templates

./data:
file1  file2  newfolder

./data/newfolder:

./Desktop:
'centos html'

./Documents:

./Downloads:
dir1  dir1~  dir10  dir11  dir2  dir3  dir4

./Downloads/dir1:

./Downloads/dir1~:

./Downloads/dir10:

./Downloads/dir11:

./Downloads/dir2:

./Downloads/dir3:

./Downloads/dir4:

./Music:

./Pictures:
'Screenshot from 2020-04-22 08-45-10.png'
'Screenshot from 2020-04-22 08-45-11.png'
'Screenshot from 2020-04-23 12-45-40.png'

./Public:

./Templates:

./Videos:
[[email protected] ~]$

Reverse Output Order

You can use the combination of -ltr to show the latest modification file or directory date as last.

[[email protected] ~]$ ls -ltr
total 16
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay    6 Mar 21 11:17 Templates
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay    6 Mar 21 11:17 Public
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay    6 Mar 21 11:17 Videos
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay    6 Mar 21 11:17 Music
drwxrwxr-x. 2 vijay vijay    6 Apr  6 10:57 Documents
drwxr-xr-x. 9 vijay vijay   93 Apr  6 12:17 Downloads
-rw-rw-r--. 1 vijay vijay 6650 Apr 16 11:40 root-top-ps.txt
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay   25 Apr 16 12:50 Desktop
-rw-rw-r--. 1 vijay vijay    0 Apr 23 08:36 file1
-rw-rw-r--. 1 vijay vijay   92 Apr 23 08:48 file2
-rw-r--r--. 1 vijay vijay  119 Apr 23 08:55 file3
drwxrwxr-x. 3 vijay vijay   49 Apr 23 08:59 data
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay  147 Apr 23 12:45 Pictures
[[email protected] ~]$ 

Sorting Files and Folders by Size

With combination of -lS displays file size in order, will display big in size first.

[[email protected] ~]$ ls -lS
total 16
-rw-rw-r--. 1 vijay vijay 6650 Apr 16 11:40 root-top-ps.txt
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay  147 Apr 23 12:45 Pictures
-rw-r--r--. 1 vijay vijay  119 Apr 23 08:55 file3
drwxr-xr-x. 9 vijay vijay   93 Apr  6 12:17 Downloads
-rw-rw-r--. 1 vijay vijay   92 Apr 23 08:48 file2
drwxrwxr-x. 3 vijay vijay   49 Apr 23 08:59 data
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay   25 Apr 16 12:50 Desktop
drwxrwxr-x. 2 vijay vijay    6 Apr  6 10:57 Documents
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay    6 Mar 21 11:17 Music
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay    6 Mar 21 11:17 Public
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay    6 Mar 21 11:17 Templates
drwxr-xr-x. 2 vijay vijay    6 Mar 21 11:17 Videos
-rw-rw-r--. 1 vijay vijay    0 Apr 23 08:36 file1
[[email protected] ~]$ 

Display Inode number of File or Directory

We can see some number printed before file / directory name. With -i options list file / directory with inode number.

[[email protected] ~]$ ls -i
 1283312 data       51725415 file1  51718101 Pictures          1369377 Videos
17953282 Desktop    51725417 file2   1369375 Public
17983391 Documents  51725431 file3  51725621 root-top-ps.txt
34018305 Downloads  34018326 Music  51718100 Templates
[[email protected] ~]$

Display UID and GID of Files

If you watn to display files and directories with its UID and GID, then you can use option -n with ls command.

[[email protected] ~]$ ls -n
total 16
drwxrwxr-x. 3 1000 1000   49 Apr 23 08:59 data
drwxr-xr-x. 2 1000 1000   25 Apr 16 12:50 Desktop
drwxrwxr-x. 2 1000 1000    6 Apr  6 10:57 Documents
drwxr-xr-x. 9 1000 1000   93 Apr  6 12:17 Downloads
-rw-rw-r--. 1 1000 1000    0 Apr 23 08:36 file1
-rw-rw-r--. 1 1000 1000   92 Apr 23 08:48 file2
-rw-r--r--. 1 1000 1000  119 Apr 23 08:55 file3
drwxr-xr-x. 2 1000 1000    6 Mar 21 11:17 Music
drwxr-xr-x. 2 1000 1000  147 Apr 23 12:45 Pictures
drwxr-xr-x. 2 1000 1000    6 Mar 21 11:17 Public
-rw-rw-r--. 1 1000 1000 6650 Apr 16 11:40 root-top-ps.txt
drwxr-xr-x. 2 1000 1000    6 Mar 21 11:17 Templates
drwxr-xr-x. 2 1000 1000    6 Mar 21 11:17 Videos
[[email protected] ~]$ 

View Last Edited File date

Do you want to know the last edited date of any file? Yes it is possible and you can see by using ls-t option.

You can also sorts the file by modification time, showing the last edited file first by using ls-t option.

[[email protected] ~]$ ls -t
Pictures  file3  file1    root-top-ps.txt  Documents  Videos  Templates
data      file2  Desktop  Downloads        Music      Public
[[email protected] ~]$ 

head -1 picks up this first file.

To open the last edited file in the current directory use the combination of ls and head commands as shown below.

[[email protected] ~]$ ls -t | head -1
Pictures
[[email protected] ~]$ 

Display Directory Information:

When you use “ls -l” you will get the details of directories content. But if you want the details of the directory then you can use -d option as., For example, if you use ls -l /etc will display all the files under the etc directory. But, if you want to display the information about the /etc/ directory, use -ld option as shown below.

$ ls -l /etc

[[email protected] data]$ ls -ld /etc/
drwxr-xr-x. 136 root root 8192 Apr 23 12:36 /etc/
[[email protected] data]$ 

If you will not provide the location of disired location, then this option will print the details of current working directory

[[email protected] ~]$ ls -ld
drwx------. 16 vijay vijay 4096 Apr 23 12:36 .
[[email protected] ~]$

Conclusion:

You have learned about ls command in Linux, which is used to display content of any folder including files and folders in Linux and Unix.

For more information about the ls command, check the man page.

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to leave a comment

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