Linux terminal hacks

Here are some useful terminal hacks.


Have a lengthy command and want to make shorter? Use aliases. You can add aliases to your .bashrc file so that they remain permanent.

Consider the following command sudo apt-get install [package name] . You can reduce the number of instructions by adding an alias to the .bashrc file:

alias install='sudo apt-get install'

The .bashrc file is a shell script file, generally used as a user specific configuration file for the BASH (Bourne Again SHell) shell. It is located in a user’s home directory and will be executed when that user logs into bash. Use ls -a flag to list all files including hidden files starting with a full stop.

.bashrc file
.bashrc file

After saving the .bashrc file and restarting the terminal you can now run install zip instead of sudo apt-get install zip .

The syntax is always shortname=’long command’ without spaces either side of the = sign.

PS1 (Prompt String 1)

You can customise the prompt to make it more meaning full.

Historically the original Bourne shell would use a $ as the normal user prompt and # for the root user prompt. This made it easy to tell if you were running as a superuser. The # is also a the comment character, so anyone blindly entering data wouldn’t run any real commands.

A few examples.

  • Check the current PS1 prompt: echo $PS1
  • Remove the computer name from the prompt: PS1=’\u: \w\$’
  • Add  system inbuilt variables: PS1=’$SECONDS [u@h W]$ ‘
  • Add a command output in the prompt: PS1=’$(uptime) [u@h W]$ ‘

Tab completion

Just tap tab whenever you want to autocomplete. For example if you’re writing the command cd med then press tab you will get cd media/ and if you tap tab again you get cd media/cdrom .

Pressing tab twice will list commands. For example, if you type ls then press tab twice you will get a list of all commands starting with ls :

ls      lsblk      lshw      lslocks      lspci      lsusb  
lsattr  lscpu      lsmod     lspgpot

Bash History

If you want to view your bash history run the command history | less or history | tail -n 15 to get only the last 15 lines of your history.

Commands are written to /home/username/.bash_history


Want to watch Star Wars in the terminal?

Run telnet

To exit press CTRL + ] followed by quit .





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