A file system is simply a program to organize and access data on a storage medium — hard disk, DVD-ROM, or whatever. Examples are ext4 and nfs for Linux, VFAT and NTFS for Windows, ISO 9660 for CD and DVD optical disks, and so on.
In general, media can be partitioned for convenience, with each partition having a separate file system. On the medium, a typical organization is a hierarchical series of directories which organize data into discrete chunks called files. None of these methods are standardized; each file system type can only be read and written by its own program, usually installed as a device driver on a particular operating system.
Application programs do not access media; instead they send read and write requests to the appropriate file system driver.
In a Unix/Linux filesystem, we must distinguish between a file name, an inode, and the data.
filename1 inodeX filename2 inodeY . . .Each such table is called a directory. When a file name is referenced, it is immediately converted by Linux to the corresponding inode number, and the file name is discarded.
It is perfectly possible for multiple file names (perhaps in multiple directories) to point to the same inode; each name then refers to the same area on disk. These are usually called hard links. Since inodes are unique to a particular file system (i.e. partition), hard links can only exist within a single partition. Although it is theoretically possible, Linux file systems do not permit directories to be hard-linked to other directories.
Every time a filename is created, the link count in the inode is increased by one. Deleting a file by name is more properly called "unlinking"— the link count is decremented by one and the filename is removed from its directory. If and only if the link count becomes zero, the data area on disk is returned to the "available space pool" where it can be reused (rewritten) in the future.
There is no concept of the "first" or "second" linked file names; they are treated identically.
Delete a directory entry to a file. If the inode’s link
count goes go zero, delete the data.
rm file1 [...]
Recursively delete a directory, its subdirectories, and all files
rm -r dir1 [...]
Delete an empty directory. (
remove a non-empty directory even using
rm -r instead.
rmdir dir1 [...]
create a new zero-length file touch newfile [...] change the date of an existing file. the default is now touch oldfile [...]
Copies and possibly renames files — or with the
-a (archive) option, directories — from one
location to another. Always physically writes data, creating a new
directory entry and inode.
#copy and rename a file
cp file1 /somewhere/file2
#copy files to a directory, which must exist
cp file1 /somewhere/file2
#copy entire directory. Create target if it does not exist.
cp -a dir1 /somewhere/dir2
Moves and possibly renames files or directories from one location to another.
#move to another directory mv file1 /somewhere/file1 #move and rename mv file1 /somewhere/file2 #rename without moving mv file1 file2 #move into another file system. Physically, copy and delete mv file1 /anothersys/file2
Creates a hard link — another file name pointing to an
existing inode; the data now has an extra name. Since it uses an
existing inode, it only works within a file system. As mentioned
above, when deleting a file with more than one link, the data
doesn’t “really” go away until you have deleted all
the directory entries (file names) for that inode.
#linkname must be in same file system
ln file1 linkname
Creates a symbolic (or soft) link to another file or directory.
Symbolic links are no relation whatsoever to hard links! A symlink is
actually a regular file containing a text string, and when referenced
in a command its name is replaced by the string (like a text
editor’s “replace” function) before the command is
executed. Therefore, the string does not have to be the name
of something that actually exists. (If it isn’t, the command
presumably will fail.) A soft link can be the name of a directory or
file, in the same or different file system, or even on a different
#linkname1 points to file1 in directory someloc
ln -s /someloc/file1 linkname1
#linkname2 points to a directory on another computer
ln -s joe@somewhere:/someloc/dir2/ linkname2
Efficiently copies files and directories — a file is copied
only if it does not exist on the target or if it is newer than the
target version, in which case only the new sections of the file are
physically copied. The target can be anywhere. Rsync has many
options; the most common are Rsync is a very fast way of creating an “additive”
backup; files you subsequently delete are still there in the backup.
-auv, standing for archive,
#copy contents of dir1 into dir2
rsync -auv dir1/ dir2
#create new directory dir2/dir1 if necessary
rsync -auv dir1 dir2
#copy to remote site; don't copy backup files.
rsync -auv ~/words/ --exclude="*.bak" email@example.com:public-web"
Rsync is a very fast way of creating an “additive” backup; files you subsequently delete are still there in the backup.
Synchronizes two directories. Copies files in both directions if
necessary to make the directories identical (older versions of files
are replaced by newer wherever they are.) Keeps a data base of file
names and dates, so it can recognize where both
versions of a file have changed since the last sync or where a file
has been deleted in one place but not the other.
# command line
unison firstdir seconddir
#graphical -- use if possible
unison-gtk firstdir seconddir
For example, I keep the Linux SIG directory synchronized between my laptop and desktop computer.
Unison is not installed by default — use
to retrieve it from the repository.
sudo apt-get install unison unison-gtk
“Low-level” (bit-for-bit) copy. Dangerous, because it
can wipe out a file system, but very useful, because it can back up
file systems, duplicate hard drives, etc. Be very
sure not to confuse
if= (input file) and
(output file)!!! Copies all bytes of
count= is used.
# simple copy
dd if=source of=dest
#copies zero bytes into dest
Note -- since /dev/zero is infinitely long, this will create a
dest file using all remaining space in the partition!
dd if=/dev/zero of=dest
# writes 1024 random bytes (2 blocks of 512)
dd if=/dev/urandom of=dest count=2
#sets block size to 1 byte, zeroes first 400 bytes
dd if=/dev/zero of=dest count=400 bs=1
#wipes a partition
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdb2
#wipes an entire hard drive
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdb
#duplicates one drive onto another (same size)
dd if=/dev/sdb of=/dev/sdc
#creates an ISO image of a CD or DVD
dd if=/dev/cdrom of=mystuff.iso
Secure copy to or from a remote site — the data is encrypted during
the transfer. Part of the
#transfer a file
scp myfile firstname.lastname@example.org:privatedir
#transfer and rename
scp email@example.com:public-web/index.html index.html.bak