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4. Basic Unix Commands and Concepts > 4.10. What Is a Command?

What Is a Command?

We’ve said that Unix offers a huge number of commands and that you can add new ones. This makes it radically different from most operating systems, which contain a strictly limited table of commands. So what are Unix commands, and how are they stored? On Unix, a command is simply a file. For instance, the ls command is a binary file located in the directory bin. So, instead of ls, you could enter the full pathname, also known as the absolute pathname:

$ /bin/ls

This makes Unix very flexible and powerful. To provide a new utility, a system administrator can simply install it in a standard directory where commands are located. There can also be different versions of a command—for instance, you can offer a new version of a utility for testing in one place while leaving the old version in another place, and users can choose the one they want.


  

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