Linux alias command: How to create and use Linux aliases

Unix/Linux aliases FAQ: Can you share some example of the Linux alias command, as well as some alias command examples?

Using Linux aliases

Aliases in Unix and Linux operating systems are cool. They let you define your own commands, or command shortcuts, so you can customize the command line, and make it work the way you want it to work. In this tutorial I'll share several Linux aliases that I use on a daily basis.

Background

I've found it very helpful to create aliases to make my command line life easier. For instance, a lot of people don't like the name of the grep command, and wish they could change it to search. With the alias command you can do exactly that:

alias search=grep

Now you can just type search instead of grep at your Linux command line:

search 'Flinstone' StoryOfBedrock.txt

In another simple alias example, instead of always typing this ls command to get a directory listing:

ls -al

I've created an alias so I only have to type the lowercase letter "L" like this:

l

Whenever I use this alias, it's exactly the same as if I had typed out the longer ls -al Linux command.

Using aliases like this you can create anything from simple shortcuts like this to powerful custom commands.

How to define a Linux alias

Creating a Linux alias is very easy. You can either enter them at the command line as you're working, or more likely, you'll put them in one of your startup files, like your .bashrc file, so they will be available every time you log in.

I created the l alias above by entering the following command into my .bashrc file:

alias l="ls -al"

As you can see, the Linux alias syntax is very easy:

  1. Start with the alias command
  2. Then type the name of the alias you want to create
  3. Then an = sign, with no spaces on either side of the =
  4. Then type the command (or commands) you want your alias to execute when it is run. This can be a simple command, or can be a powerful combination of commands.

Unix/Linux alias examples and syntax

To get you going, here is a list of sample Linux aliases I use all the time. I've pretty much just copied them here from my .bashrc file:

alias dirs="ls -al | grep '^d'"
alias l="ls -al"
alias lf="ls -aFG"
alias lm="ls -al|more"
alias h="history"
alias html="cd /web/apache/htdocs/devdaily/html"
alias logs="cd /web/apache/htdocs/devdaily/logs"
alias qp="ps auxwww|more"
alias nu="who|wc -l"

# GIT
alias gpom="git push origin master"
alias gs="git status"
alias gb="git branch"
alias gco="git checkout"

As you can see, you can get as creative as you want, and pipe commands together to do just about anything. In the last alias shown I've actually combined three Linux commands in a row into one alias to get the output I want.

Because the Unix shell is very programmable and because the output of commands is very consistent and reliable, you can create your own aliases (or macros if you prefer) to do just about anything.

Have a favorite Linux alias?

If you have a favorite Linux alias command/example you'd like to share, feel free to leave it in the comments section below.