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Becoming a reluctant sysadmin (fears of the command line)

I was afraid of the black screen for a long time.

Yes, I admit it. It seemed like all the other kids in the developer clubhouse were awesome at this mysterious black screen. I, however, was baffled. In my computer science classes, once I figured out that Fedora (a Linux OS) had a folder navigation system, my reaction was “cd what?”

Here’s your beginner guide to navigating your web server via … dum dum … the terminal.

The Beginning: Your Client

I, and apparently a lot of others, use PuTTY. Users of other systems, like MacOSX, might want to use a different method of access. When you launch, you should see this screen:


Put in your host name/IP address as instructed, and click “Open”

OMG, a Black Screen

Don’t panic. Have your username and password ready.

Handy tip, use Shift+Insert to paste in PuTTY … Ctrl+V etc. don’t work, and are actually a bad idea. For more on PuTTY controls.


Where am I?

Here are your basic navigation tools: ls and cd. So first, try typing ls.

ls: List information about file(s)

So here’s what’s in the folder you logged into. But what if you want go to into a folder? Type cd [foldername] (without the brackets)

cd: Change directory

Now you’re in the directory you specified (you will get an error if you try to use this command on a file, or a non existent directory)

But what if you want to go back? Easy enough … try cd ../ this pulls you up a directory.

These are the basic basics of navigating your web server.

One Reply to “Becoming a reluctant sysadmin (fears of the command line)”

  1. For the purpose of completeness (reference-wise) Mac OS X users will want to open a terminal window and type “ssh [username]@[address]”From there, everything else is the same 🙂

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