1

First look at the output of ls --help command:

Several lines ignored in the output

-a, --all                  do not ignore entries starting with .
-l                         use a long listing format
  1. As you can see -a and -all should be same
  2. I found -l flag but there is no -al in the help but this flag works

So my questions are:

  1. Why don't -a and -all return the same output but help shows both of them in a same line?
  2. Is -al an old form of -all because both are the same but I didn't find manual for -al
  3. What's the meaning of . .. in the ls -a output?

Outputs of above commands included below:

ls -a :

.  ..  article.png  bgame  newtest

ls -all :

total 32
drwxr-xr-x  4 shahab shahab  4096 Sep 19 12:15 .
drwxrwxr-x 33 shahab sudo    4096 Oct 28 16:00 ..
-rw-r--r--  1 shahab shahab 15504 Aug 19 16:06 article.png
drwxr-xr-x  5 shahab shahab  4096 Aug 19 10:41 bgame
drwxr-xr-x  5 shahab shahab  4096 Aug 29 16:48 newtest

ls -al :

total 32
drwxr-xr-x  4 shahab shahab  4096 Sep 19 12:15 .
drwxrwxr-x 33 shahab sudo    4096 Oct 28 16:00 ..
-rw-r--r--  1 shahab shahab 15504 Aug 19 16:06 article.png
drwxr-xr-x  5 shahab shahab  4096 Aug 19 10:41 bgame
drwxr-xr-x  5 shahab shahab  4096 Aug 29 16:48 newtest

1 Answer 1

7

You’re missing the extra hyphen: ls -a is the same as ls --all, with two hyphens.

ls -all, with a single hyphen, is the same as ls -a -l -l, which is the same as ls -a -l, which is the same as ls -al.

A single - introduces short options, which are single characters, and can be combined. Two -s introduce long options, which are words (or multiple words) and can’t be combined.

In the ls -a output, . represents the current directory, and .. represents the parent directory.

5
  • tnx in advance sir. so one more question is whats the meaning of add a same flag -l 3 times? of course each time you copy-paste this flag it wont add more details on output because as you said ls -a -l -l same as ls -a -l also am I understood true that, you can combine two flags by type one hyphen and then both flags? .e.g -a + -b = -ab ?? (thanks again) Oct 28, 2019 at 17:16
  • sorry, since I'm a beginner, I love learning by asking! 2nd question is: are there 2 files in every directory, one for current directory . one for parent directory .. what are they using for? Oct 28, 2019 at 17:38
  • Adding -l more than once doesn’t make any difference (unlike other programs where some options increase their effect if they’re added more than once). Two flags can indeed be combined, -a and -b becomes -ab. Oct 28, 2019 at 17:39
  • really thanks for this best answering Oct 28, 2019 at 17:45
  • Yes, each directory in a POSIX file system contains . and ... To understand .., see this question and its answers, and the linked questions. . provides a reference to the current directory in a generic way. Oct 28, 2019 at 17:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .