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Table Of Contents  CertiGuide to A+ (A+ 4 Real)
 9  Chapter 5: The Linux Operating System
      9  The Major Components and Interfaces of Linux and Their Functions

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Linux Path Names and File Names
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Disk Partitions and Key System Directories

The concept of different disk drives being referenced as a separate drive is unique to Windows. In Linux a separate disk partition or a partition on a different drive is mounted on or within a directory within the current file system and is merely referenced as being within a directory where it is mounted. So the path name to files within this partition would be prefixed with the directory(s) wherein this file system is mounted.

Table 9 contains a list of the most essential Linux system directories.

Table 9: Key Linux System Directories

System directory



major commands (binaries and scripts) for use by all users


files used by the boot loader including the kernel


device files


system configuration files


user home directories


shared program libraries used by kernel modules and commands in /bin and /sbin


removable media files systems are usually mounted here


additional or optional system programs and components, many distributions do not use this directory


process and kernel information stored here, the contents of this directory are created at boot time and as process information changes


root’s home directory


system binary commands used principally by the system administrator


temporary files created by programs


contains additional system commands, utilities and user application programs including these directories:

/usr/bin - additional user binary commands and scripts
/usr/include - C-program header files
/usr/lib - libraries
/usr/local - local programs
/usr/sbin - additional system binary commands
/usr/share -
/usr/src - source code
/usr/X11 - the X-Windows system


files that frequently change including log files, spooler files, web server files, ftp server files, database files

Most Linux distributions use a similar set of basic names for major directories found within the root directory. If the reader wants additional information about these directories after reading this section, the specification for these directories can be found at The Linux Documentation Project also has an excellent discussion paper at

Now let’s take a more detailed look at what each of these directories contains.

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CertiGuide to A+ (A+ 4 Real) ( on
Version 1.0 - Version Date: March 29, 2005

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