|Red Hat Linux 6.1: The Official Red Hat Linux Getting Started Guide|
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By now, you've learned a little about the structure of the filesystem; and you've learned how to create files and directories.
But just because you know how to create files and directories doesn't mean that you're stuck with the changes you've made. What if you want to rename and/or move files and directories?
Let's start with the copy command.
Like so many Linux features, you have a variety of options from which to choose when you want to manipulate files and directories. You can also use wildcards when you're copying, moving, or deleting files and directories.
Basically, the copy command is not much more complex than typing:
cp <source> <destination>
so to copy the file sneakers.txt to the directory tigger in your login directory, just type:
cp sneakers.txt tigger
Notice that you also used relative pathnames to copy the file. You can use both relative and absolute pathnames with cp. Our login directory is the parent of the directory tigger; meaning that tigger is one directory down from ours.
Read the cp man page (man cp) for a full list of the options available with cp. But among the options you can use with cp are:
-i -- interactive. Prompts you to confirm if the file is going to overwrite a file in your destination. This is a handy option because it can help prevent you from making mistakes.
-r -- recursive. Rather than just copying all the files and directories, copies the whole directory tree, subdirectories and all, to another location.
-f -- force. Copies without prompting you for confirmation that the file should be overwritten. Unless you're sure you want to force the copy, you probably don't want to make friends with this option right now.
-v - verbose. Will show the progress of the files being copied.
Just by using cp alone, you won't see much when the command is executed. Using an option, such as -i, can make the process a little more useful, because if you want to copy a file to a location that already has a file with the same name, you'll be asked first if you really want to overwrite -- meaning replace -- the file that's already there.
Tip: Remember that among your options is -f (force), which can overwrite files without asking you if you're certain. Make sure, when you use the force option, that you really want to overwrite a file.
Now that we have the file sneakers.txt in the tigger directory, let's use cp -i to copy the file again to the same location.
[billy@localhost billy]$ cp -i sneakers.txt tigger cp: overwrite 'tigger/sneakers.txt'?
To overwrite the file that's already there, press Y and then Enter. Don't want to overwrite the file? Now's the time to press N and Enter.
To move files, use the mv command (man mv), which is similar to the cp command, except that with mv the file is physically moved from one place to another, instead of being duplicated, as with cp.
Common options available with mv include:
-i -- interactive. Will prompt you if the file you've selected will overwrite an existing file in the destination directory. This is a good option, because like the -i option in cp, you'll be given the chance to make sure you want to replace an existing file.
-f -- force. Overrides the interactive mode and moves without prompting. Unless you know what you're doing, this option doesn't play nice; be very careful about using it until you become more comfortable with your system.
-v -- verbose. Shows a list of the files being moved.
If you want to move a file out of your home directory and into another directory, you would type:
mv sneakers.txt tigger
or, mv sneakers.txt /home/billy /home/billy/tigger using absolute pathnames.
Actually, we've already covered half of renaming, because when you copy or move files, you can also rename.
To copy the file sneakers.txt from our login directory to our tigger subdirectory, just type:
cp sneakers.txt tigger
To copy and rename that file from sneakers.txt to piglet.txt, type:
cp sneakers.txt tigger/piglet.txt
To move and rename the file, just substitute mv for cp in the above example.
If you cd to tigger and use ls, you'll see the file piglet.txt.
If you just want to rename the file and keep its location, just mv in your current directory:
mv sneakers.txt piglet.txt
We talked about creating files with the touch command and by using redirection in Chapter 3. And we created the directory tigger using mkdir.
But we haven't discussed how to delete files and directories.
Deleting files and directories with the rm command (man rm) is a straightforward process.
Let's take our new file piglet.txt, and delete it from the tigger directory with the rm command:
What happens if we didn't really want to get rid of it? Too late! Again, that's where the -i (interactive) option comes in handy, because it gives a second chance to think about whether we really want to toss the file.
[billy@localhost billy]$ rm -i piglet.txt rm: remove 'piglet.txt'?
You can also delete files using the wildcard *, but be careful, because you can easily delete files you didn't intend to throw away.
To remove a file using a wildcard, you would type:
You can also remove more than one file in one command, as in:
rm piglet.txt sneakers.txt
Options for removing files -- and directories -- include:
-i -- interactive. Prompts you to confirm the deletion. This is good.
-f -- force. Overrides interactive mode and removes the file(s) without prompting. This might not be good, unless you know exactly what you're doing.
-v -- verbose. Shows a listing of files as they're being removed.
-r -- recursive. When removing directories, will remove all of the files and the subdirectories of the specified directory. This can also get rid of an empty directory.
To remove directories with rm, you must specify the -r option.
For example, if you want to recursively remove the directory tigger you would type:
rm -r tigger
And if you want to combine options, such as forcing a recursive deletion, you can type:
rm -rf tigger
Be careful! rm is a powerful command, and can delete your entire system! If you're root and you type the simple command rm -rf / you're sunk -- like a snake eating its tail, the command will recursively remove everything on your system.
A safer alternative to using rm for removing directories is the rmdir command. With this command, you won't be allowed to use recursive deletions, so a directory which has files in it won't be deleted.
Read the rmdir man page by typing man rmdir to find out more about the command.