Linux Server Commands CHEATSHEET

Linux Server Commands CHEATSHEET (for newb admins)

Just FYI, these commands are mostly for Apache/LiteSpeed servers on CentOS. I don’t do as much stuff with NGINX and Ubuntu. Will add more over time.


  • hostnamectl – see operating system and version, reference link
  • hostname – see hostname
  • hostname – change hostname to any desired domain
  • whoami – shows your user name (useful for knowing if you’re executing commands as root user or another user)
  • susu -sudo -i – switch to root user if you haven’t already. “su -” is probably more proper since it creates a login shell with new environment.
  • passwd – change password for current user
  • logout – log out of current user
  • yum update – update server packages (useful before doing new software installs)
  • Auto completion – hit the [TAB] key while typing commands to auto complete names of directories and files.


  • Connect to ssh ssh user@ip -p 2222 (the -p and port number isn’t needed if using default port 22)
  • /etc/ssh/sshd_config – editing SSHD, changing SSH port number, allowing/disabling SSH or password authenthication, etc.
  • getting SSH port grep Port /etc/ssh/sshd_config (may need “sudo” in front)
  • systemctl restart sshd.service – restart sshd. Link.
  • cat ~/.ssh/authorized_keys – lists authorized SSH keys

SSH key – generate on Macbook terminal:

  • generate SSH key ssh-keygen -t rsa
  • choose private key save location or leave empty for default /Users/username/.ssh/id_rsa, choose passphrase for private key if you want (I usually leave empty)
  • cat /Users/username/.ssh/ to see public key, copy and import it to where you need. TIP: sometimes when copying off the command line, it adds line-breaks that you need to delete when pasting elsewhere.
  • ssh-add /Users/user/.ssh/id_rsa to load private key in terminal
  • ssh-keygen -R – solves the “known host issue” by removing a known host. Useful for when you rebuild a server but keep the same IP.

SSH key – generate on Linux:

  • generate SSH key ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096, and press enter through all the prompts (about 3).
  • cat /root/.ssh/ to see public key.
  • cat /root/.ssh/id_rsa to see private key.

Navigating around command line (full guide):

  • lsls -a – list files in directory, use ls -S to sort by size or ls -Sr to reverse order, show hidden files
  • ls -l – list files but also show permissions, # of hardlinks, file owner and group, size and modification time. You can combine together ls -la
  • ls *.php – lists only files with .php extension.
  • cd – goes to user home directory.
  • cd / – goes to root directory. cd or cd ~ goes to user home directory (of whichever user is logged in). cd returns to default working directory in linux (ideally, the root but often not the case)
  • cd [directoryname] is relative whereas cd /directory is absolute
  • cd .. – goes up to parent directory
  • cd - – goes to previous directory
  • pwd – shows path to current directory
  • clear or CTRL+L to clear the screen

Files & Directories (create, delete, move, copy, archive):

  • mkdir test – make directory called “test”, rmdir test removes it
  • rm test – delete file or directory called “test”
  • rm -rf test – deletes “test” directory without prompting you for every file
  • rm -rf *test* – deletes all files/directories with the string “test” in the name.
  • rm -fv *.txt removes all files in current directory with “.txt” extension.
  • find . -name *.ext -type f -delete deletes all files with “ext” extension including within subdirectories. Other options.
  • cp test /location – copy “test” file or directory to “/location” directory. Other options.
  • cp oldname.txt newname.txt copies file to new name in same directory.
  • 'cp' -R -rf file location use this to do recursive overwrite without any prompt.
  • cp -avr /path/dir1 /path/dir2 copies one directory (and contents) to another.
  • mv test /location – move “test” to “/location” directory. Other options.
  • mv oldname.txt newname.txt – renames the file. mv command also used for renaming directories as well.
  • tar -czvf folder.tar.gz folder – archive “folder” directory into folder.tar.gz file. Other compression commands.
  • tar -xzvf folder.tar.gz – extract archive in current working directory. Other options.
  • gzip -d database.sql.gz – extract sql.gz files.
  • zip -r folder archives the “folder” directory into zip format. You don’t actually need to put “.zip” but I find it makes the command easier to remember. (Don’t forget the -r option as it makes the command recursive and includes every file within subdirectories as well.)
  • unzip unzips archive to current directory.
  • Hide files and show hidden files

Files & Directories (ownership, permissions):

  • Change file ownership – chown USER:GROUP FILE or chown -R USER:GROUP FILE for recursive. Useful after migrating files from another server and they don’t work. Another link.
  • chmod -R 755 /path/to/file.php changes that file permission to 755. For more explanations about change permissions and recursively change permissions (symbolic vs numeric method).
  • find /path/to/dir -type d -exec chmod 755 {} \; and find /path/to/dir -type f -exec chmod 644 {} \; are much betters ways to recursively set all directory permissions to 755 and file permissions to 644 (as common web practice).
  • save command output to a file

Files (searching & hack detection):

  • grep -r "string" /home/user – (recursively) searches all instances of “string” for all files within /home/user directory. Can also do grep -r -l 'pattern' /path/to/dir to list only the files.
  • find /home/user -type f -name "something.php" – searches /home/user directory for all files named “something.php”.
  • find /home/user -type f -ctime -7 – searches all files within /home/user directory changed within 7 days or less. (Change to + sign if you want to search for changes older…usually uncommon.)
  • find /home/user -type f -name "*.php" -ctime -30 – finds all files with .php extension changed within past 30 days. More find examples.
  • find /etc -type f -printf '%TY-%Tm-%Td %TT %p\n' | sort – finds most recently changed files, listed in order of less recent to most recent. More find examples.
  • zgrep -Eo "string" /path/to/gzippedfile.gz – searches for the text “string” within an archive.

File Transfer:

  • wget – download externalfile to current working directory
  • curl -0 can also work if wget doesn’t (other alternatives to wget)
  • rsync -a [email protected]:/remote/dir /local/dir copies (pulls) remote directory to local directory.
  • rsync -a /local/dir [email protected]:/remote/dir copies (pushes) local directory to remote directory.
  • rsync -avz --rsh='ssh -p2220' /local/dir [email protected]:/remote/dir pushes to remote site using specified ssh port 2220.


  • sftp user@serverIP_or_hostname – do this from destination server. (Use sftp -oPort=1234 user@serverIP_or_hostname if there’s a custom SFTP port other than 22.)
  • Use cd and ls commands to navigate around the remote computer.
  • get – to download file local.
  • Reference link

VI text editor:

  • vi filename.txt – open any file up in vi editor
  • press[ESC] – to switch to normal mode
  • :i – insert (editing mode)
  • dd (from normal mode) – deletes the line under cursor. Other delete commands.
  • :q! – quit without saving
  • :wq – quit with saving
  • cat /path/to/file – prints the file.
  • cat /path/to/file | more – prints file but showing full lines.
  • grep database wp-config.php – prints only lines with the string “database” in wp-config.php.
  • grep -A 1 "database" wp-config.php – prints all lines with “database” (but also INCLUDING 1 line after). Can use -B 1 to show 1 line before, or -C 1 to show both one line before and after.

Disks, usage & space:

  • Check available space – df (default), df -h (friendly KB/MB/GB format), df -l (local size only)
  • du -sh * – check sizes within current directory
  • df -k
  • df -k /tmp – checks free space of “/tmp” directory
  • sudo du -a /home/ | sort -n -r | head -n 20 – lists largest files in “/home” directory.
  • find large files
  • mount
  • unmount – umount /path/to/mount (removes from /etc/fstab)
  • view mounts – cat /etc/fstab
  • disk space commands and more du commands
  • du -hsx /* | sort -rh | head -10


  • Check for listening ports sudo lsof -i -P -n | grep LISTEN


  • kill processes – pkill 12345, replacing “12345” with actual process ID

Databases (MySQL & MariaDB):

  • restart MariaDB – systemctl start mariadb
  • export (aka “dump”) mysql database into a file – mysqldump -u dbuser -p dbname > dbfile.sql, you will be prompted for password
  • import sql file into db (assuming db’s and users already created) – mysql -u dbuser -p dbname < dbfile.sql, you will be prompted for password
  • cat /root/.my.cnf – recover mysql root pass, or reset it
  • managing databases and users from SSH, nice video and explanation
  • creating databases and users from SSH
  • curious about trying non-default mysql configs? Try this.

MySQL commands (for MySQL/MariaDB shell/prompt):

  • mysql -u user -p logs you in, exit logs you out
  • SHOW DATABASES; list all databases
  • CREATE DATABASE database_name; – creates DB
  • DROP DATABASE database_name; – drops DB
  • SELECT user, host FROM mysql.user; – list all DB users
  • CREATE USER 'database_user'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'user_password'; – creates DB user
  • DROP USER 'database_user'@'localhost'; – deletes DB user
  • GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON database_name.* TO 'database_user'@'localhost'; – grant all privileges to specified user for specified database
  • GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON *.* TO 'database_user'@'localhost'; – grant all privileges to specified user for all databases
  • REVOKE ALL PRIVILEGES ON database_name.* TO 'database_user'@'localhost'; – revoke privileges
  • SHOW GRANTS FOR 'database_user'@'localhost'; – see all user privileges
  • show global variables like 'log_error' – show location of error log file.

LiteSpeed web server:

  • installing LS
  • reset LS console pass – cd /usr/local/lsws/admin/misc and then ./
  • version check – /usr/local/lsws/bin/lshttpd -v
  • start LS – /usr/local/lsws/bin/lswsctrl start
  • restart LS – /usr/local/lsws/bin/lswsctrl reload
  • upgrade OLS – yum update', then 'yum upgrade openlitespeed
  • enable crawler (cPanel) – vi /etc/apache2/conf.d/includes/pre_main_global.conf and add
  • view logs /tmp/lshttpd/.status
  • More LS license commands


  • refresh disk quota
  • license check
  • force run backups – /usr/local/cpanel/bin/backup --force (more info)
  • update WHM /scripts/upcp or /scripts/upcp --force (if it’s already updated)
  • Reset max deferred email limit – delete `rm /var/cpanel/email_send_limits/`


  • Error logs – cat /home/cyberpanel/error-logs.txt (log files on CyberPanel)
  • Cron schedules – /etc/crontab clear out unnecessary cronjobs eating up server resources (backups)



  • systemctl status firewalld – check status
  • systemctl start firewalld – start it
  • systemctl enable firewalld – enables it
  • firewall-cmd --list-allfirewall-cmd --list-ports
    – see open ports, alternate: for s in firewall-cmd --list-services; do firewall-cmd --permanent --service "$s" --get-ports; done;`
  • open port, `firewall-cmd –permanent –add-port=1234/tcp` (using whichever port number you need) , then `firewall-cmd –reload`
  • systemctl stop firewalld – stops it
  • systemctl disable firewalld – disables it

Configuration files (common locations):

Logs (locations and common commands):

  • tail /location/of/log shows last 10 lines of log file
  • tail -n 100 /location/of/log shows last 100 lines
  • tail -f /location/of/log keeps watching last 10 lines of log file
  • You can also use “less +F” (but generally not for big files)
  • grep "abc" /file/name to find lines with the string “abc” in them. See other grep examples.

Disks (format, partition, mount):

  • df -Th show mounted disks/partitions and file systems
  • lsblk show attached storage disks
  • Partition & format disk – sudo fdisk /dev/diskname replace “diskname” with what you want (usually sda1/vdb1). From partition command line, n follow defaults, then a to make it bootable (if needed), p to check that it partitioned correctly, and w to write these partition changes. Try lsblk afterwards to check everything worked.
  • sudo mkfs.ext4 /dev/partitionname partition name is usually disk name with a partition number (sda1, sda2, etc). You can also switch ext4 file system to something else like xfs.
  • Mount new disk – sudo mkdir /disk1 to create new “disk1” directory in your root (use another name if you want). sudo mount /dev/partitionname /disk1 mounts partition to the directory.
  • for more info on automatically mounting at boot, etc.


  • bash to run the script, sh is another option
Linux Server Commands CHEATSHEET

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