What is a Terminal and How to Open and Use it?

A terminal is a program that provides a Command-Line Interface that allows users to execute commands, run scripts, and access system files and directories. A terminal is a powerful tool for Linux users, and it is essential for developers and system administrators.

This article will explain what a terminal is in Linux and how to open and use it effectively.

How to Open a Terminal in Linux?

Opening a terminal in Linux is a simple process. There are several ways to open a terminal in Linux, depending on the distribution you are using. Here are some of the most common ways to open a terminal in Linux:

Using a Keyboard Shortcut

The most common way to open a terminal in Linux is by using a keyboard shortcut. The shortcut varies depending on the distribution you are using. In Ubuntu, Fedora, and CentOS, the shortcut is Ctrl+Alt+T.

Using the Applications Menu

You can also open a terminal by clicking on the application widget where you will find a search bar and writing terminal inside it will show you its icon as shown below.

Open Terminal From Anywhere

While using the Linux, if you are inside any directory/Desktop, right-click on the location, and you will find an option “Open in Terminal” as shown below: 

How to Use a Terminal in Linux?

Using a terminal in Linux can be intimidating for new users. However, once you get the hang of it, it can be a powerful tool. Here are some basic commands that you can use in the terminal:

Navigation Commands

Few commands that assist the users to navigate through the file system:

cdChange Directory
pwdPrint Working Directory
lsList Files and Directories
mkdirCreate a New Directory
rmdirRemove a Directory

File Manipulation Commands

Few most used command to perform different operations on file:

touchCreate a new file
cpCopy a file
mvMove or rename a file
rmRemove a file

System Information Commands

Few utilities that assist in getting the system related information: 

unamePrint system information
topDisplay system processes
psDisplay process information
dfDisplay disk usage

User and Permission Commands

The permissions and ownership of file/directories can be altered using the following commands:

sudoRun a Command with Administrative Privileges.
chownChange the Owner of a File or Directory. 
chmodChange the Permissions of a File or Directory.

Networking Commands

The users can check their network connectivity information and securely connect to the remote server using the following commands:

pingCheck if a network host is reachable 
nslookupLook up the IP address of a domain name 
sshSecurely connect to a remote computer 
wgetDownload a file from the internet

These commands are just the tip of the iceberg. There are countless other commands and options available in the terminal that can help you accomplish a wide range of tasks. You can find more relevant commands by reading this article which will greatly help you in performing different tasks.


Terminal is a Command Line Interface (CLI) which is a built-in tool available in Linux to simplify the tasks for every user. The users can execute a variety of different commands, run scripts, and access system files and directories to automate their tasks. 

This post has explained the basics of the terminal and the three different methods to open a terminal in Linux.