|Unix --> Files and Directories|
There are a number of methods for specifying which directory and file
you are interested in. Pathnames (the directory specification) can
be relative or absolute. Absolute pathnames begin with a slash,
/, and start at the root directory. Successive directories
down the path are also separated by a slash. In the previous paragraph
I gave the absolute pathname of my home directory. Each
subdirectory is a branch in the directory tree.
A relative pathname begins with the directory you are in
(commonly referred to as working directory) and moves
downward to a lower directory. Relative pathnames begin with the
name of the first directory below the working directory. Each lower
directory down the path should have a slash in front of it. Assuming
I was in the /home directory, cernan/taylor would be the
relative pathname to my home directory. A "." indicates the working directory,
while ".." indicates the directory one level up (known as
the parent directory). If I were in my home directory, the
relative pathname for the /home directory would be ../.. which
says go to the "grandparent" directory two directories higher than you
In general, file and directory names should be composed only of letters
of the alphabet, digits, "."'s, and "_"'s. Be aware that
files that begin with a "." do not appear in the directory list unless
a special flag has been set when doing the list command.
|Naming files and directories|
The period is often used to add a suffix on to a base filename. For
example, the source code for C programs have a .c suffix added to
them, e.g. prog.c. Separating a filename by a "." is particularly
useful when using wildcard selections.
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© 1993-2001 Christopher C. Taylor