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bin, boot, opt, and Linux File System Hierarchy Mysteries

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The Linux directory structure looks confusing compared to Windows. Here are the names and purpose of each directory.

Anyone who has used the Linux operating system has probably been stumped by the odd file folder names used by the software. It’s different from Windows where only a few folder names are mysterious. With Linux, and any Unix-based operating system, every folder name seems cryptic or abbreviated. The folder names are called the file system hierarchy.

Other file system hierarchy differences include:

  • Folders are called directories in Unix.
  • You mount devices like CD-ROMs in Unix, attach or connect them in Windows.

Here’s a table with the most common Unix directory names and their purpose:


Folder Name Description
/ This is the top-most level in the Linux operating system. While similar to C:\ in Windows, in Linux drives like D:\ or E:\ appear as directories under the \ directory. In Windows, D:\ and E:\ appear at the same level as the C:\ folder.
bin Critical system programs and utilities are stored in this directory. Software like a Firefox web browser are stored in the /usr/bin directory. bin is shorthand for binary or binaries.


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