hier − Description of the file system hierarchy


A typical Linux system has, among others, the following directories:


This is the root directory. This is where the whole tree starts.


This directory contains executable programs which are are needed in single user mode and to bring the system up or repair it.


Contains static files for the boot loader. This directory only holds the files which are needed during the boot process. The map installer and configuration files should go to /sbin and /etc.


Special or device files, which refer to physical devices. See mknod(1).


If both MS−DOS and Linux are run on one computer, this is a typical place to mount a DOS file system.


Contains configuration files which are local to the machine. Some larger software packages, like X11, can have their own subdirectories below /etc. Site-wide configuration files may be placed here or in /usr/etc. Nevertheless, programs should always look for these files in /etc and you may have links for these files to /usr/etc.


When a new user account is created, files from this directory are usually copied into the user’s home directory.


Configuration files for the X11 window system.


On machines with home directories for users, these are usually beneath this directory, directly or not. The structure of this directory depends on local admininstration decisions.


This directory should hold those shared libraries that are necessary to boot the system and to run the commands in the root filesystem.


is a mount point for temporarily mounted filesystems


This is a mount point for the proc filesystem, which provides information about running processes and the kernel. This pseudo-file system is described in more detail in proc(5).


Like /bin, this directory holds commands needed to boot the system, but which are usually not executed by normal users.


This directory contains temporary files which may be deleted with no notice, such as by a regular job or at system boot up.


This directory is usually mounted from a seperate partition. It should hold only sharable, read-only data, so that it can be mounted by various machines running Linux.


The X-Window system, version 11 release 6.


Binaries which belong to the X−Windows system; often, there is a symbolic link from the more traditional /usr/bin/X11 to here.


Data files associated with the X−Windows system.


These contain miscellaneous files needed to run X; Often, there is a symbolic link from /usr/lib/X11 to this directory.


Contains include files needed for compiling programs using the X11 window system. Often, there is a symbolic link from /usr/inlcude/X11 to this directory.


This is the primary directory for executable programs. Most programs executed by normal users which are not needed for booting or for repairing the system and which are not installed locally should be placed in this directory.


is the traditional place to look for X11 executables; on Linux, it usually is a symbolic link to /usr/X11R6/bin.


This directory holds files containing word lists for spell checkers.


Site-wide configuration files to be shared between several machines may be stored in this directory. However, commands should always reference those files using the /etc directory. Links from files in /etc should point to the appropriate files in /usr/etc.


Include files for the C compiler.


Include files for the C compiler and the X−Windows system. This is usually a symbolic link to /usr/X11R6/include/X11.


Include files which declare some assembler functions. This used to be a symbolic link to /usr/src/linux/include/asm, but this isn’t the case in Debian or libc6 based systems.


This contains information which may change from system release to system release and used to be a symbolic link to /usr/src/linux/include/linux to get at operating system specific information. Debian systems don’t do this and use headers from a known good kernel version, provided in the libc*-dev package.


Include files to use with the GNU C++ compiler.


Object libraries, including dynamic libraries, plus some executables which usually are not invoked directly. More complicated programs may have whole subdirectories there.


The usual place for data files associated with X programs, and configuration files for the X system itself. On Linux, it usually is a symbolic link to /usr/X11R6/lib/X11.


contains executables and include files for the GNU C compiler, gcc(1).


Files for the GNU groff document formatting system.


Files for uucp(1).


Files for timezone information.


This is where programs which are local to the site typically go in.


Binaries for programs local to the site go there.


Local documnetation


Configuration files associated with locally installed programs go there.


Files associated with locally installed programs go there.


Info pages associated with locally installed programs go there.


Manpages associated with locally installed programs go there.


Locally installed programs for system admininstration.


Source code for locally installed software.


Manpages go in there, into their subdirectories.


These directories contain manual pages which are in source code form. Systems which use a unique language and code set for all manual pages may omit the <locale> substring.


This directories contains program binaries for system admininstration which are not essentail for the boot process, for mounting /usr, or for system repair.


Source files for different parts of the system.


This contains the sources for the kernel of the operating system itself.


An alternative place to store temporary files; This should be a link to /var/tmp. This link is present only for compatibility reasons and shouldn’t be used.


This directory contains files which may change in size, such as spool and log files.


This directory is superseded by /var/log and should be a symbolic link to /var/log.


This directory is used to save backup copies of important system files.


These directories contain preformatted manual pages according to their manpage section.


Lock files are plaed in this directory. The naming convention for device lock files is LCK..<device> where <device> is the device’s name in the filesystem. The format used is that of HDU UUCP lock files, i.e. lock files contain a PID as a 10-byte ASCII decimal number, followed by a newline character.


Miscelanous log files.


This is where vi(1) saves edit sessions so they can be restored later.


Run-time varaible files, like files holding process identifiers (PIDs) and logged user information (utmp). Files in this directory are usually cleared when the system boots.


Spooled (or queued) files for various programs.


Spooled jobs for at(1).


Spooled jobs for cron(1).


Spooled files for printing.


User’s mailboxes.


Spooled files for the smail(1) mail delivery program.


Spool directory for the news subsystem.


Spooled files for uucp(1).


Like /tmp, this directory holds temporary files stored for an unspecified duration.


The Linux filesystem standard, Release 1.2


This list is not exhaustive; different systems may be configured differently.


find(1), ln(1), mount(1), proc(5), The Linux Filesystem Standard