ls - Linux


The ls command in Linux lists the contents of a directory, displaying files, directories, and subdirectories. It is frequently used to view the details of files within the current or a specified directory. ls is a fundamental command used in everyday file management and system navigation.


The basic syntax of the ls command is:

ls [options] [file or directory]
  • [options]: Optional flags that modify the behavior of the command.
  • [file or directory]: Optional specific file(s) or directory(s) to list. If not specified, ls defaults to the current directory.


  • -a, –all: Includes directory entries whose names begin with a dot (.) excluding . and ..
  • -l: Use a long listing format that includes detailed information like permissions, number of links, owner name, group name, size, and time of last modification.
  • -h, –human-readable: With -l, print sizes in human readable format (e.g., 1K, 234M, 2G).
  • -t: Sort by modification time, newest first.
  • -r: Reverse the order of sort to get oldest first or if used with the -t flag, oldest is listed first.
  • -R, –recursive: List subdirectories recursively.
  • –color=[when]: Controls whether to use color to distinguish file types. Possible values are ‘never’, ‘auto’, or ‘always’.


  1. List all files and directories in the current directory, including hidden files:

    ls -a
  2. Long format listing:

    ls -l
  3. Long format listing including hidden files:

    ls -la
  4. Listing sorted by file modification time:

    ls -lt
  5. Recursive listing:

    ls -R

Common Issues

  • Hidden files not showing: By default, ls does not show files or directories that start with a dot (.). Use ls -a to include these in the listing.
  • Output is not sorted by time: Users often forget to add the -t option to sort by file modification time.
  • Permission denied error: This happens when the user does not have the necessary permissions to view the contents of the directory. Running ls with sudo might overcome this, but use with caution.


The ls command can be combined with other tools like grep for more filtered output or redirected to a file for logging purposes:

  • List all .txt files and redirect output to a file:

    ls -l *.txt > txt_files_list.txt
  • Combine with grep to find a specific file type:

    ls -l | grep '.txt'
  • dir: Similar to ls, but defaults to -C (column output).
  • vdir: Similar to ls -l, providing a detailed listing.
  • find: For searching for files in a directory hierarchy.

For more detailed information and additional options, you might consult the ls man page by typing man ls or visiting the online Linux Information Project page.