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The UNIX File System

A lot of what you want do using UNIX involves the manipulation of files. In UNIX, groups of files are collected together in directories. The directories are arranged in a tree. Directories that are contained in other directories are considered to be lower down in the tree. (This tree grows with its branches down!)

The very top of the tree is the root directory. When you login you find yourself in what is known as your home directory. It has the same name as your login name. For example, if you type smith to login, then your home directory is named smith. Your home directory is actually located fairly far down the tree. The list of directories from a file to the top of the tree is called its full path. An example of a full path is /usr/local/maple. In UNIX one writes a path using the ``slash'' / to separate a directory from the one above it in the tree. The directory that you are in is called the working or current directory.