The Fedora 3 Linux File Structure
By Stephen Bucaro
Linux is the enterprise operating system of choice. For over 14 years, Linux has
proven itself to be stable and secure. Now, millions of PC users, frustrated with
the poor reliability and abusive product activation scheme of Windows, are switching to
Linux for their desktop operating system. And, the best part is that Linux is free
to use at home, at school, or in your place of business, and you can freely give
copies to your friends.
You'll feel more comfortable using Linux if you understand its file system. Like
any operating system, the Linux file system is organized in a hierarchical
structure where a "directory" can contain files or other directories, which in
turn can can contain other files or directories.
Unlike Windows, Linux doesn't use drive letters. The storage of all media is
organized as directories under the root of the file system, which is named "/"
(forward slash). Unlike Windows, which uses "back-slashes", Linux directory names
in a file path are separated by forward slashes.
• Linux, like the Internet, uses forward slashes in file paths. The use of back-slashes
in file paths by Windows is incompatible with the Internet and has resulted in all kinds of
complexities and problems when converting Window's file paths for the Internet.
There are many different versions or "distributions" of Linux, but they all use
the same standardized set of top level directories. These standard directories
each have a specific purpose. If you understand the purpose of each directory,
you'll know your way around and be comfortable with the Linux operating system.
Below is a description of the top levels directories in Linux.
/boot contains the compressed Linux kernel and files that provide information
for booting Linux. The Linux kernel is decompressed and loaded at boot time.
/bin contains executable programs that are part of the Linux operating system.
/dev contains device files. Similar to Windows device drivers, there are
device files for just about any device that may be on the system.
/etc contains system configuration files. When you install a software package,
it may create a directory under /etc for storing its own files.
/home is where the users directories reside. There is a subdirectory under
/home for each of the system's users.
/lib contains loadable program modules used by the programs stored in other directories.
/lost+found is where lost files are stored.
/mnt is where storage from mounted file systems like a CD-ROM drive and
floppy drive are entered in the file system.
/opt is where some software applications may be stored.
/proc contains special files that work as an interface to the kernel. The
directories and files under this directory are created dynamically and exist only
while Linux is running. These files constantly change as the system operates.