15+ Basic Unix Commands to Boost Productivity


Unix is a multi-user, multi-tasking operating system that can be used on servers, workstations, and laptops. It has a graphical user interface (GUI) similar to Microsoft Windows that makes it simple to use. Nonetheless, you can use Unix commands to manage the OS too.


In this blog, we will discuss Unix and its basic commands that would help you in your tasks while dealing with the popular operating system. Let’s begin!

What is Unix?

Interestingly, it was one of the first operating systems to be created entirely in C. Unix is a modular operating system that consists of numerous components such as the kernel, shell, file system, and a core set of utilities or programs.

The Unix kernel, a master control program that offers services to start and stop processes, is at the heart of the Unix OS. It also manages low-level tasks including memory allocation, file management, system call response, and job scheduling. When numerous programs try to use the same resource at the same time, task scheduling is required to avoid conflicts.

The shell, a command-line interface for entering commands that are given to the kernel for execution, is how users interact with the Unix environment. One of the various utilities is invoked using a command. Each utility performs a single task, such as generating files, removing directories, retrieving system data, and setting the user environment.

Following are some of the additional features of the Unix operating system:

  • It has a hierarchical file system that makes data access and management much easier.
  • Unix has networking capabilities built-in, allowing several users to effortlessly share information.
  • User programs written using a standard programming interface can extend Unix capability.

Unix Commands

The following list enumerates some of the most basic Unix commands:

1) ls

This command lets you list your files present in a folder.

2) ls -l

This Unix command allows you to list your files in a ‘long format,’ which includes information such as the file’s precise size, who owns it, who has permission to view it, and when it was last edited.

3) ls -a

This command displays all files, including those with filenames that start with a dot, which you may not want to see.

4) emacs filename

Emacs is a Unix-based editor that allows you to create and modify files. Emacs, like vi, is a screen editor.

5) mv filename1 filename2

You can use this command to relocate a file (i.e., rename it or move it to a different directory).

6) cp filename1 filename2

This command allows you to copy content from one file to another.

7) rm filename

This command is used to delete a file. It’s best to use the rm -i option, which will prompt you for confirmation before destroying anything. Create an alias in your .cshrc file to make this your default command.

8) diff filename1 filename2

With this Unix command, you can compare your files, and show where they differ.

9) wc filename

It displays the number of lines, words, and characters in a document.

10) chmod options filename

This command allows you to adjust the permissions on your files for reading, writing, and executing.

11) gzip filename

This Unix command compresses files, resulting in a significant reduction in file size. Text files usually compress to around half their original size, but this varies greatly depending on the file size and the nature of the contents.

Other tools (such as compress) can be used for this purpose as well, although gzip usually provides the best compression rate. Gzip compresses files by appending the suffix ‘.gz’ to the original filename.

12) gunzip filename

This command is used to uncompress files that have been compressed using the gzip algorithm.

13) gzcat filename

It allows you to examine a gzipped file without having to unzip it (same as gunzip -c). You may even use gzcat filename | lpr to print it directly.

14) date

Displays the current day, date, time, and year with the date command.

15) df

This command displays the disc use of the file system (that is, the amount of space taken up on mounted file systems). Df gives the file system device, the number of blocks utilized, the number of blocks available, and the directory where the file system is mounted for each mounted file system.

16) find

The find command returns a list of all files in a directory and its subdirectories that satisfy a set of criteria. This command is most typically used to locate all files with a specific name.

Difference Between Linux and Unix (Linux vs Unix)

CostLinux is a completely free operating system.Unix is a licensed operating system.
GUIKDE, Unity, and Gnome are the desktop environments for Linux. It began as a command-based operating system. Gnome is now included in almost all Unix distributions.
SecurityIt gives you more security. Currently, there are roughly 60-100 viruses reported for Linux.Unix is also a very secure operating system. To date, it has between 85 and 120 viruses listed.
UsageLinux is utilized in a wide range of applications, including desktops, servers, cellphones, and mainframes.The Unix OS is primarily used on servers, workstations, and personal computers.
CodingLinux is a Unix clone that acts similarly to Unix but lacks its code.Unix uses a separate coding system designed by AT&T Labs.
Default ShellThe default shell for Linux is Bash (Bourne Again SHell).The Bourne Shell is Unix’s default shell.
ManufacturerThe Linux kernel is created by a community of people from all around the world. Linus Torvalds, the father of Linux, is in charge of the project.IBM AIX, HP-UX, and Sun Solaris are the three Unix distributions. Apple’s OSX operating system is likewise based on Unix.
ExampleUbuntu, Debian GNU, and Arch Linux.SunOS, Solaris, SCO UNIX, AIX, HP/UX, and ULTRIX.

Due to the many similarities shared by the two operating systems, many of the Unix and Linux commands are the same.


In this blog, you came across some of the basic Unix commands that are part of your daily tasks with the operating system. Apart from that, we also discussed the most important differences between Linux and Unix.

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