How to Get to the Desktop in Linux Terminal


As with most operating systems, everything in Linux is based on executing a file. The Linux terminal offers a non-graphical way to navigate around all the files and folders in your computer, including the files on the desktop. Every line of the terminal begins with a prompt -- a string of characters that usually ends in ">" or "#" -- and everything you type appears after the prompt. When you press "Enter," the command you typed is executed by the terminal, and you are given another prompt.

  • Run the terminal. You will usually find it under Applications followed by Terminal. For example, in Xubuntu, locate the terminal by selecting Applications menu, System and then Terminal.

  • Type cd after the prompt and press Enter. The terminal is now in the Home directory. The command "cd" stands for change directory. Usually, you'd type cd and then the name of a directory you'd like to change to; however, if you do not provide a directory, you are automatically taken to the Home directory.

  • Type cd Desktop and press Enter. The Desktop directory contains all the files that you see on your Desktop. The Desktop directory is always inside the Home directory.

  • Type ls and press Enter. You should see every file contained on the Desktop. "ls" stands for "list." You can type "ls" while in any directory to list the files in that directory.

Tips & Warnings

  • Type "exit" and press the "Enter" key when in the terminal to return to Linux's graphical interface.

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