This article is mainly notes I have taken for CSCB09/CSC209 at UofT.

Who is using Unix/Linux?

What is an Operating System

The software layer between user applications and hardware.

One example of abstraction is files and directories. These are concepts defined within an OS.


File is a named collection of data with some attributes

To get information of a file in Unix, you use the following commands

ls -l

UNIX Implementation

Unix uses a data structure called inode to store information about a file. It is identified by inode number.

615 (inode number)
size                    |
owner                   |
timestamps              |
link/block counts       |
permissions             |
pointers to file blocks |
single indirect pointer | -> pointers to next blocks
double indirect pointer |
triple indirect pointer |


Directories is a collection of files.

In UNIX, every directory is a file.

UNIX Implementation

Since directories are files, they also uses inode. Only special thing is that they contain data called directory entries

615 (inode number)
size                    |
owner                   |
timestamps              |
link/block counts       |
permissions             |
pointers to file blocks |  -
-------------------------  |
single indirect pointer |  |
-------------------------  |---> Directory entries contians other inode numbers
double indirect pointer |  |
-------------------------  |
triple indirect pointer |  -

Everything is a File

In UNIX, all input / ouput are files.

Directory Hierarchy

Directories are not trees, but an acyclic graph.

For example, graph below is an acyclic graph.

To create a hard link, use following command

ln <target> <name of link>

The link will be identical to target, containing the same inode number. A file will only be removed if there are no more name/hard links.

So even if you remove the original file, the hard link is still valid.

To create a soft link, use following command

ln -s <target> <name of link>

This will create a small file containing the true path of the linked file. Soft link will have different inode number. Think of it as a bookmark.

If you remove target, soft link will become invalid.


Permissions in UNIX is very simple. When you run ls -l, you should see the following output:

[email protected]  8 junzheng  staff   256 19 Jul 04:20 Applications
drwxr-xr-x   3 junzheng  staff    96 31 May 13:24 CLionProjects
[email protected] 26 junzheng  staff   832 28 Jul 20:54 Creative Cloud Files
[email protected] 15 junzheng  staff   480  2 Aug 21:33 Desktop

rwxr-xr-x is the corresponding permissions for the file. It is structured like following

User   Group    Other
rwx    r-x      r-x

Each entry have three permissions:

Directory permissions is similar to files, with d prefix.

Modify Permissions

To modify permissions, use chmod.

For example, following command will give owning user execute permission

chmod u+x file_name


Shell is simply a commandline interpreter, it is the interface between user and OS.

There are many shells to choose from:

We usually use bash, it is a superset of sh.

Input and Output Redirection

By default, programs read from stdin and write to stdout. They also write errors to stderr.

However, you can change input/output/err.

1 is stdout, 2 is stderr. You can redirect stderr using 2> file.


Use | to redirect the output of a command to input of another command.

For example:

ls -l | wc -l

Will count the lines printed by ls -l command.


Filters are programs, that reads from stdin, and outputs filtered result.

There are many to choose from

Job Control

Use ps to view processes. There are two main types of processes:

To run a command in background, append & to the name.

You can hit ctrl+z to suspend forground job.

Jobs are different from processes!