15 Basic ‘ls’ Command Examples in Linux

ls command is one of the most frequently used commands in Linux. I believe the ls command is the first command you may use when you get into the command prompt of Linux Box.

We use the ls command daily basis and frequently even though we may not aware and never use all the available ls command tricks.

[ You might also like: 5 Useful Tools to Remember Linux Commands Forever ]

In this article, we’ll be discussing the basics of ls command examples with all the available parameters in Linux.

Linux ls Command

1. List Files and Directories in Linux

Running ls command with no option list files and directories in a bare format where we won’t be able to view details like file types, size, modified date and time, permission and links, etc.

# ls
 
 0001.pcap Desktop Downloads 
 index.html install.log.syslog Pictures 
 Templates anaconda-ks.cfg Documents 
 fbcmd_update.php install.log Music
 Public Videos
 

2. Long Listing of Files in Linux

Here, ls -l (-l is a character, not one) shows file or directory, size, modified date and time, file or folder name and owner of the file, and its permission.

# ls -l
 
 total 176
 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 683 Aug 19 09:59 0001.pcap
 -rw-------. 1 root root 1586 Jul 31 02:17 anaconda-ks.cfg
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4096 Jul 31 02:48 Desktop
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4096 Jul 31 02:48 Documents
 drwxr-xr-x. 4 root root 4096 Aug 16 02:55 Downloads
 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 21262 Aug 12 12:42 fbcmd_update.php
 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 46701 Jul 31 09:58 index.html
 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 48867 Jul 31 02:17 install.log
 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 11439 Jul 31 02:13 install.log.syslog
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4096 Jul 31 02:48 Music
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4096 Jul 31 02:48 Pictures
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4096 Jul 31 02:48 Public
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4096 Jul 31 02:48 Templates
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4096 Jul 31 02:48 Videos

3. View Hidden Files in Linux

List all files including hidden files starting with ‘.‘.

# ls -a
 
 . .bashrc Documents .gconfd 
 install.log .nautilus .pulse-cookie
 .. .cache Downloads .gnome2 
 install.log .netstat.swp .recently-used.xbel
 0001.pcap .config .elinks .gnome2_private 
 .kde .opera .spice-vdagent
 anaconda-ks.cfg .cshrc .esd_auth .gtk-bookmarks 
 .libreoffice Pictures .tcshrc
 .bash_history .dbus .fbcmd .gvfs 
 .local .pki Templates
 .bash_logout Desktop fbcmd_update.php .ICEauthority 
 .mozilla Public Videos
 .bash_profile .digrc .gconf index.html 
 Music .pulse .wireshark
 

4. List Files with Human Readable Format

With a combination of -lh option, shows sizes in a human-readable format.

# ls -lh
 
 total 176K
 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 683 Aug 19 09:59 0001.pcap
 -rw-------. 1 root root 1.6K Jul 31 02:17 anaconda-ks.cfg
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4.0K Jul 31 02:48 Desktop
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4.0K Jul 31 02:48 Documents
 drwxr-xr-x. 4 root root 4.0K Aug 16 02:55 Downloads
 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 21K Aug 12 12:42 fbcmd_update.php
 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 46K Jul 31 09:58 index.html
 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 48K Jul 31 02:17 install.log
 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 12K Jul 31 02:13 install.log.syslog
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4.0K Jul 31 02:48 Music
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4.0K Jul 31 02:48 Pictures
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4.0K Jul 31 02:48 Public
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4.0K Jul 31 02:48 Templates
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4.0K Jul 31 02:48 Videos

5. List Files and Directories with ‘/’ Character at the End

Using the -F option with the ls command will add the '/' character at the end of each directory.

# ls -F
 
 0001.pcap Desktop/ Downloads/ index.html 
 install.log.syslog Pictures/ Templates/
 anaconda-ks.cfg Documents/ fbcmd_update.php install.log 
 Music/ Public/ Videos/
 

6. List Files in Reverse Order in Linux

The following command with the ls -r option display files and directories in reverse order.

# ls -r
 
 Videos Public Music install.log 
 fbcmd_update.php Documents anaconda-ks.cfg
 Templates Pictures install.log.syslog index.html 
 Downloads Desktop 0001.pcap
 

7. Recursively list Sub-Directories in Linux

ls -R option will list very long listing directory trees. See an example of the output of the command.

# ls -R
 
 total 1384
 -rw-------. 1 root root 33408 Aug 8 17:25 anaconda.log
 -rw-------. 1 root root 30508 Aug 8 17:25 anaconda.program.log
 
 ./httpd:
 total 132
 -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 0 Aug 19 03:14 access_log
 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 61916 Aug 10 17:55 access_log-20120812
 
 ./lighttpd:
 total 68
 -rw-r--r-- 1 lighttpd lighttpd 7858 Aug 21 15:26 access.log
 -rw-r--r--. 1 lighttpd lighttpd 37531 Aug 17 18:21 access.log-20120819
 
 ./nginx:
 total 12
 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 0 Aug 12 03:17 access.log
 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 390 Aug 12 03:17 access.log-20120812.gz

8. List Files and Directories in Reverse Order in Linux

A combination of -ltr will show the latest modification file or directory date as last.

# ls -ltr
 
 total 176
 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 11439 Jul 31 02:13 install.log.syslog
 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 48867 Jul 31 02:17 install.log
 -rw-------. 1 root root 1586 Jul 31 02:17 anaconda-ks.cfg
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4096 Jul 31 02:48 Desktop
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4096 Jul 31 02:48 Videos
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4096 Jul 31 02:48 Templates
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4096 Jul 31 02:48 Public
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4096 Jul 31 02:48 Pictures
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4096 Jul 31 02:48 Music
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4096 Jul 31 02:48 Documents
 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 46701 Jul 31 09:58 index.html
 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 21262 Aug 12 12:42 fbcmd_update.php
 drwxr-xr-x. 4 root root 4096 Aug 16 02:55 Downloads
 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 683 Aug 19 09:59 0001.pcap

9. Sort Files by File Size in Linux

With a combination of -lS displays file size in order, will display big in size first.

# ls -lS
 
 total 176
 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 48867 Jul 31 02:17 install.log
 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 46701 Jul 31 09:58 index.html
 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 21262 Aug 12 12:42 fbcmd_update.php
 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 11439 Jul 31 02:13 install.log.syslog
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4096 Jul 31 02:48 Desktop
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4096 Jul 31 02:48 Documents
 drwxr-xr-x. 4 root root 4096 Aug 16 02:55 Downloads
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4096 Jul 31 02:48 Music
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4096 Jul 31 02:48 Pictures
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4096 Jul 31 02:48 Public
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4096 Jul 31 02:48 Templates
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 4096 Jul 31 02:48 Videos
 -rw-------. 1 root root 1586 Jul 31 02:17 anaconda-ks.cfg
 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 683 Aug 19 09:59 0001.pcap

10. Display Inode number of File or Directory

We can see some numbers printed before the file/directory name. With -i options list file/directory with an inode number.

# ls -i
 
 20112 0001.pcap 23610 Documents 23793 index.html 
 23611 Music 23597 Templates 23564 anaconda-ks.cfg 
 23595 Downloads 22 install.log 23612 Pictures 23613 Videos
 23594 Desktop 23585 fbcmd_update.php 35 install.log.syslog 
 23601 Public
 

11. Shows Version of ls Command

Check the version of the ls command.

# ls --version
 
 ls (GNU coreutils) 8.4
 Copyright (C) 2010 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
 License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <http://gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html>.
 This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
 There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.
 Written by Richard M. Stallman and David MacKenzie.

12. Show ls Command Help Page

The help page of ls command with their option.

# ls --help
 
 Usage: ls [OPTION]... [FILE]...

13. List Directory Information in Linux

With ls -l command list files under directory /tmp. Wherein with -ld parameters displays information of /tmp directory.

# ls -l /tmp
 total 408
 drwx------. 2 narad narad 4096 Aug 2 02:00 CRX_75DAF8CB7768
 -r--------. 1 root root 384683 Aug 4 12:28 htop-1.0.1.tar.gz
 drwx------. 2 root root 4096 Aug 4 11:20 keyring-6Mfjnk
 drwx------. 2 root root 4096 Aug 16 01:33 keyring-pioZJr
 drwx------. 2 gdm gdm 4096 Aug 21 11:26 orbit-gdm
 drwx------. 2 root root 4096 Aug 19 08:41 pulse-gl6o4ZdxQVrX
 drwx------. 2 narad narad 4096 Aug 4 08:16 pulse-UDH76ExwUVoU
 drwx------. 2 gdm gdm 4096 Aug 21 11:26 pulse-wJtcweUCtvhn
 -rw-------. 1 root root 300 Aug 16 03:34 yum_save_tx-2012-08-
 16-03-34LJTAa1.yumtx
# ls -ld /tmp/
 
 drwxrwxrwt. 13 root root 4096 Aug 21 12:48 /tmp/

14. Display UID and GID of Files

To display UID and GID of files and directories. use option -n with ls command.

# ls -n
 
 total 36
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 500 500 4096 Aug 2 01:52 Downloads
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 500 500 4096 Aug 2 01:52 Music
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 500 500 4096 Aug 2 01:52 Pictures
 -rw-rw-r--. 1 500 500 12 Aug 21 13:06 tmp.txt
 drwxr-xr-x. 2 500 500 4096 Aug 2 01:52 Videos

15. ls command and its Aliases

We have made an alias for ls command, when we execute ls command it’ll take the -l option by default and display a long listing as mentioned earlier.

# alias ls="ls -l"

Note: We can see a number of aliases available in your system with the below alias command and the same can be unalias as shown below example.

# alias
 
 alias cp='cp -i'
 alias l.='ls -d .* --color=auto'
 alias ll='ls -l --color=auto'
 alias ls='ls --color=auto'
 alias mv='mv -i'
 alias rm='rm -i'
 alias which='alias | /usr/bin/which --tty-only --read-alias --show-dot --show-tilde'

To remove an alias previously defined, just use the unalias command.

# unalias ls

[ You might also like: How to Create and Use Alias Command in Linux ]

In our next article, we’ll cover up more or advanced ls commands with their examples. Also, I suggest you go through some interview questions on the ls command, and also if we’ve missed anything in the list, please update us via the comment section.

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44 thoughts on “15 Basic ‘ls’ Command Examples in Linux”

  1. Please answer this question about the Unix command “ls”:

    What is the command to list the contents of a directory in Unix and Unix-like operating systems?

    Reply
  2. I was hoping to see the option to output the version information of ls, but couldn’t get a clear answer…

    Reply
  3. There are some questions that I have kept on answering for a week now and they say they are wrong…

    1: What is the option that prints the author of a file?
    My answer.

    $ ls --author -l 

    2: What is the ls option to sort by file size?
    My answer.

    $ ls --sort= size 

    3: what is the ls option to list entries by lines instead of by column?
    My answer:

    $ ls -1 

    4: What is the option to output the version information of ls?
    My answer.

    $ ls--version 
    Reply
  4. I was hoping to see ls -b. I know exactly what it does but can’t grasp why it’s necessary…

    Reply
  5. Help Please, cay you show me coding of (The files which name were end with the letter [A-Z])- give me fast answer please i urgent need this.

    Reply

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