Back to the Basics #9: File Systems

Unix and Linux servers are much more common than Windows servers, so there is a good chance that you will encounter at least one during your time as a system administrator. Therefore, it is a good idea to be familiar with the peculiarities of the file systems, which differ in many ways from Windows desktops.

Since we are going back to the basics, the most basic unique features of a *nix file system is that it uses forward slashes, just like URLs on the web. In other words, your web documents directory may look like this /home/user/web/docs rather than F:\home\user\web\docs. Moreover, these server file systems do not use drive letters for physical drives or virtual drives. Every attached media will be located under the top-level “/” directory. Mounted drives are commonly found under /mnt or /media.

Another unique feature of Linux and Unix file systems is that files often do not have extensions. You are certainly welcome to give files extensions, but the OS does not require it. For example, the file for the command “grep” is indeed the word “grep” with no extension. On Windows, it would likely be “grep.exe”. For the web, most of your files will still have extensions (i.e. .html, .jpg, and .ogg).

These are a couple of the basic differences between Unix-like file systems and Windows file systems. For a more detailed look at a typical Linux file system structure, see our earlier post on the subject.