What Windows Users Should Know about Linux Servers

You are likely reading this because you are new to Linux servers, and although it may seem intimidating now, you will soon learn to love your new system.  You may rarely need to touch the Linux command line, as most functions these days can be handled using a web-based control panel like cPanel / WHM.  Nevertheless, there are important differences between a Windows operating system and a Linux one that you should definitely know.

1. Directories– For the most part, Linux and Windows file systems function the same, but Windows uses backslashes ( \ ) for directory paths, whereas Linux uses forward slashes ( / ).

2. Swap / Pagefile – With Windows you may be accustomed to virtual memory stored in a single file called a pagefile.  Linux, however, uses a swap partition, and temporary files are stored there for each application.  Also, Linux will fill up as much memory as possible before using the swap partition.  If you have a lot of RAM, the swap may not be used at all.  Therefore, do not be alarmed if it seems like your physical memory is all used up, as much of that may be used for application cache.

3. Hidden files – Linux has a unique hidden file scheme.  Any file or directory with a period (.) in front of it will essentially be hidden.  Files such as .htaccess, for example, may not show up unless you tell your file manager to view hidden files or use “ls -al” from the command line.

There are other differences between Windows and Linux that we will cover over the next few weeks.  Be sure to come back and keep reading.