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What's . and .. in Linux?

Hi, have you ever wondered what does . and .. refer to when you ls -l into a directory in Linux?

In this post, I will try to explain to you what people mean when they say . refers to the current directory and .. refers to parent directory (one level above).

In this case, I have created a directory called testfor demonstration purposes that is empty for now.

[[email protected] Documents]$ mkdir test
‚Äč
[[email protected] Documents]$ ls -la test
total 0
drwxrwxr-x. 2 tux tux 6 Apr 23 21:12 .
drwxr-xr-x. 3 tux tux 18 Apr 23 21:12 ..

Notice -i option refers to the inode number that identifies one file from another.

Observe the inode number (i.e. 1550977) on the left of both of the files. And, the number 2 in this case represents amount of inodes in this directory.

Important note:

  • Almost everything is a file in Linux

  • A directory is a special type of file in Linux

  • An inode represents the metadata of a file/directory.

Did you know you can figure out the subdirectory count of a directory without going inside of the directory?

The number 119 represents the total number of inodes and if you subtract by 2 (. and ..) then you will get 117 subdirectories inside it. Always remember to substract by 2.

Learn more about difference between hard links and symbolic links.