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Lesson 7. Command-Line Interface > File System Representations

File System Representations

Before you begin experimenting with some of the more useful command-line tools, make sure you understand how UNIX represents the file system. UNIX systems create a single hierarchy of folders and files (often described as an inverted tree) that includes all of the file systems available to the computer. The topmost folder is the root folder and is written as “/” (forward slash). There are no disks per se that are available to you via the command line. Instead, each disk is defined as a device in /dev, and each file system is mounted as a volume in /Volumes. Mounted volumes from connected devices appear as folders within the larger file system tree.

Consequently, locating files using the command line often involves specifying a path starting at the root folder and descending through the tree to the required file or folder. For example, the Finder might present a network drive on your desktop with the name Troubleshooting. In the command-line interface, this corresponds to the folder /Volumes/Troubleshooting.


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