Basic Linux usage

All the VSC clusters run the Linux operating system:

  • KU Leuven: Red Hat Enterprise Linux ComputeNode release 6.5 (Santiago), 64 bit
  • UAntwerpen: CentOS 7.x
  • UGent: CentOS 7.x
  • VUB: CentOS 7.x

This means that, when you connect to one of them, you get a command line interface, which looks something like this:


When you see this, we also say you are inside a "shell”. The shell will accept your commands, and execute them.

Some of the most often used commands include:

ls Shows you a list of files in the current directory
cd Change current working directory
rm Remove file or directory
joe Text editor
echo Prints its parameters to the screen

Most commands will accept or even need parameters, which are placed after the command, separated by spaces. A simple example with the ‘echo’ command:

$ echo This is a test
This is a test

Important here is the "$” sign in front of the first line. This should not be typed, but is a convention meaning "the rest of this line should be typed at your shell prompt”. The lines not starting with the "$” sign are usually the feedback or output from the command.

More commands will be used in the rest of this text, and will be explained then if necessary. If not, you can usually get more information about a command, say the item or command ‘ls’, by trying either of the following:

$ ls --help
$ man ls
$ info ls

(You can exit the last two "manuals” by using the ‘q’ key.)


For more exhaustive tutorials about Linux usage, please refer to the following sites: