hier - Description of the file system hierarchy
A typical Linux system has, among others, the following
/ This is the root directory. This is where the whole
/bin 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 direc-
tory only holds the files which are needed during the
boot process. The map installer and configuration
files should go to /sbin and /etc.
/dev Special or device files, which refer to physical dev-
ices. See mknod(1).
/dos If both MS-DOS and Linux are run on one computer, this
is a typical place to mount a DOS file system.
/etc 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
When a new user account is created, files from this
directory are usually copied into the user's home
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 adminins-
/lib This directory should hold those shared libraries that
are necessary to boot the system and to run the com-
mands in the root filesystem.
/mnt 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 nor-
/tmp This directory contains temporary files which may be
deleted with no notice, such as by a regular job or at
system boot up.
/usr This directory is usually mounted from a seperate par-
tition. It should hold only sharable, read-only data,
so that it can be mounted by various machines running
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
Contains include files needed for compiling programs
using the X11 window system. Often, there is a sym-
bolic 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
is the traditional place to look for X11 executables;
on Linux, it usually is a symbolic link to
This directory holds files containing word lists for
Site-wide configuration files to be shared between
several machines may be stored in this directory. How-
ever, 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 sys-
tem. This is usually a symbolic link to
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 operat-
ing system specific information. Debian systems don't
do this and use headers from a known good kernel ver-
sion, 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
The usual place for data files associated with X pro-
grams, and configuration files for the X system itself.
On Linux, it usually is a symbolic link to
contains executables and include files for the GNU C
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 typ-
ically go in.
Binaries for programs local to the site go there.
Configuration files associated with locally installed
programs go there.
Files associated with locally installed programs go
Info pages associated with locally installed programs
Manpages associated with locally installed programs go
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>
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 operat-
ing 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.
/var 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 impor-
tant 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
Run-time varaible files, like files holding process
identifiers (PIDs) and logged user information (utmp).
Files in this directory are usually cleared when the
Spooled (or queued) files for various programs.
Spooled jobs for at(1).
Spooled jobs for cron(1).
Spooled files for printing.
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 con-
find(1), ln(1), mount(1), proc(5), The Linux Filesystem