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Naming files

From: Unix for Mac OS X Users

Video: Naming files

In this movie, we are going to be working with files and directories in Unix. Before we see how to create files in Unix, I want to just first talk about the way we name files, to make sure that we follow the standard Unix rules and conventions, and that's because they are a little bit different than what you are used to in working with Mac OS X's Finder. The first rule is that there is a maximum for 255 characters. That's the same as you are used and 255 should be more than enough. The second rule is that you want to avoid most symbols. I have listed off the main ones there, but you really want to stay away from almost all symbols and the reason why is that in Unix a lot of these from the command line have special meaning. In Unix, as it's trying to parse the line and figure out what you mean, may confuse the symbol on a file name for being a command or an operator that it normally uses. Now in some of these cases, Unix will allow you to use the symbol but then whenever you want to reference that file name and do something with it, you will have to escape the symbol. You have to put a backslash in front of it. So you end up typing a lot of backslashes to escape the characters, which is just more needless typing. So we just typically want to stay away from them altogether. What you do want to use are letters, numbers, and the period, underscore, and hyphen. Remember period has a special meaning. If it's the first letter of the file name, it becomes a dot file and it gets treated a little bit differently and it won't show up in the Mac OS X Finder. You also don't want to put a hyphen as the first character of a name because if you remember when we talked about options, options begin with a hyphen. So ls -la, that hyphen in front of la indicates that l and a are options. So we don't want to put hyphen as the first name of our file so that it never gets confused with being options. Typically, even though we can use uppercase letters, you want to stick to lower case letters in Unix and the reason why is because Unix typically is case sensitive. In other words, MyFile with capital M and F is different from myfile with lowercase m and f. They would be considered two different files in Unix. This applies to most Unix systems. Mac OS X is a special case because the default formatting for a hard drive is to use a case insensitive formatting for your hard drive and that means that then Unix on a Mac becomes case insensitive. Those myfile and MyFile would refer to the same thing. That's different from most Unix systems and it's important to know the difference because it can cause problems if you are dragging files over from another Unix system on to your Mac, because one of them is case sensitive and one of them is case insensitive. If you have two files, myfile and MyFile, on one system they are allowed to co-exist, but on your Mac they are not allowed to co-exist. They are considered the same file name. so keep that in mind, we would typically just stick with lowercase for all file names in Unix and avoid the issue altogether. The other thing is different from working the Finder is that underscores are better than spaces. It's no big deal to put spaces in your filename inside the Finder. You can certainly use them in your filename in Unix but remember spaces are how Unix can tell the difference between commands, options, and then all of the different arguments. Spaces are what help break that up and delineate the different parts. So if we have spaces in our file name, Unix can't tell that that should be one continuous filename. So every time we typed a name you have to put a backslash in front of the space to escape it, just like we have to escape those symbols. So instead of having to do that all the time, it's better just to avoid them. The other thing you can do is put quotes around names that have spaces in them and then it will know ah, this is one complete unit. I don't need to break that up. The last thing is that you want to use file endings whenever possible. They are not required but they are very helpful, .txt for text files, .html for HTML fille, and so on. It really helps you when you are looking at your listings to differentiate to what are files from commands and directories. Now there are a few other rules. For example, you can't name your file dot, or dot, dot, because obviously those have special meaning we have already talked about, either the current directory or the parent directory. You wouldn't want to name a file the same name as a Unix command. Now if you put a file ending at the end of it that won't be a problem, but you just don't want to call something a file echo, because echo is one of the commands that we're going to use and you want to make sure that Unix can tell the difference. Before we go onto creating files, let me just show you what I mean about this spaces inside the filename, just so you get an idea of that. Okay, so here I am in my Terminal and I am in my home directory. I will write cd and I am in my user directory and from here there is my library folder cd, library. Inside my library, if we do ls, you will see that there is Application Support that has a space in it. That's one of the folders that Apple created and Apple put a space in it. Perfectly legal to have a space in it, nothing wrong with it, but it creates a problem because now watch when I could do cd into Application, I will hit the Tab, you will see what the auto complete had to do. The auto complete put this backslash right here in front of the space to indicate this is all one thing. cd, don't take this as being two separate things. Look what happens if I go back here and take those out, cd Applications Support. Well you can look at it and tell what's going to happen. It's going to say "cd into Application? That's the folder? And then I don't know what I am supposed to do with Support," but it's going to try and just go in Applications and say there is no such file or directory. So it really does have to have that backslash in front of it. Application, hit Return, and you can see I went in there. You also, as I said, can put quotes around it. "Application Support" and it gets me that the same way. So those are the two ways that we have to make sure that Unix knows this one complete thing. It's one file name or one directory name. It's not supposed to be two separate things. Disregard that space.

Naming files

In this movie, we are going to be working with files and directories in Unix. Before we see how to create files in Unix, I want to just first talk about the way we name files, to make sure that we follow the standard Unix rules and conventions, and that's because they are a little bit different than what you are used to in working with Mac OS X's Finder. The first rule is that there is a maximum for 255 characters. That's the same as you are used and 255 should be more than enough. The second rule is that you want to avoid most symbols. I have listed off the main ones there, but you really want to stay away from almost all symbols and the reason why is that in Unix a lot of these from the command line have special meaning. In Unix, as it's trying to parse the line and figure out what you mean, may confuse the symbol on a file name for being a command or an operator that it normally uses. Now in some of these cases, Unix will allow you to use the symbol but then whenever you want to reference that file name and do something with it, you will have to escape the symbol. You have to put a backslash in front of it. So you end up typing a lot of backslashes to escape the characters, which is just more needless typing. So we just typically want to stay away from them altogether. What you do want to use are letters, numbers, and the period, underscore, and hyphen. Remember period has a special meaning. If it's the first letter of the file name, it becomes a dot file and it gets treated a little bit differently and it won't show up in the Mac OS X Finder. You also don't want to put a hyphen as the first character of a name because if you remember when we talked about options, options begin with a hyphen. So ls -la, that hyphen in front of la indicates that l and a are options. So we don't want to put hyphen as the first name of our file so that it never gets confused with being options. Typically, even though we can use uppercase letters, you want to stick to lower case letters in Unix and the reason why is because Unix typically is case sensitive. In other words, MyFile with capital M and F is different from myfile with lowercase m and f. They would be considered two different files in Unix. This applies to most Unix systems. Mac OS X is a special case because the default formatting for a hard drive is to use a case insensitive formatting for your hard drive and that means that then Unix on a Mac becomes case insensitive. Those myfile and MyFile would refer to the same thing. That's different from most Unix systems and it's important to know the difference because it can cause problems if you are dragging files over from another Unix system on to your Mac, because one of them is case sensitive and one of them is case insensitive. If you have two files, myfile and MyFile, on one system they are allowed to co-exist, but on your Mac they are not allowed to co-exist. They are considered the same file name. so keep that in mind, we would typically just stick with lowercase for all file names in Unix and avoid the issue altogether. The other thing is different from working the Finder is that underscores are better than spaces. It's no big deal to put spaces in your filename inside the Finder. You can certainly use them in your filename in Unix but remember spaces are how Unix can tell the difference between commands, options, and then all of the different arguments. Spaces are what help break that up and delineate the different parts. So if we have spaces in our file name, Unix can't tell that that should be one continuous filename. So every time we typed a name you have to put a backslash in front of the space to escape it, just like we have to escape those symbols. So instead of having to do that all the time, it's better just to avoid them. The other thing you can do is put quotes around names that have spaces in them and then it will know ah, this is one complete unit. I don't need to break that up. The last thing is that you want to use file endings whenever possible. They are not required but they are very helpful, .txt for text files, .html for HTML fille, and so on. It really helps you when you are looking at your listings to differentiate to what are files from commands and directories. Now there are a few other rules. For example, you can't name your file dot, or dot, dot, because obviously those have special meaning we have already talked about, either the current directory or the parent directory. You wouldn't want to name a file the same name as a Unix command. Now if you put a file ending at the end of it that won't be a problem, but you just don't want to call something a file echo, because echo is one of the commands that we're going to use and you want to make sure that Unix can tell the difference. Before we go onto creating files, let me just show you what I mean about this spaces inside the filename, just so you get an idea of that. Okay, so here I am in my Terminal and I am in my home directory. I will write cd and I am in my user directory and from here there is my library folder cd, library. Inside my library, if we do ls, you will see that there is Application Support that has a space in it. That's one of the folders that Apple created and Apple put a space in it. Perfectly legal to have a space in it, nothing wrong with it, but it creates a problem because now watch when I could do cd into Application, I will hit the Tab, you will see what the auto complete had to do. The auto complete put this backslash right here in front of the space to indicate this is all one thing. cd, don't take this as being two separate things. Look what happens if I go back here and take those out, cd Applications Support. Well you can look at it and tell what's going to happen. It's going to say "cd into Application? That's the folder? And then I don't know what I am supposed to do with Support," but it's going to try and just go in Applications and say there is no such file or directory. So it really does have to have that backslash in front of it. Application, hit Return, and you can see I went in there. You also, as I said, can put quotes around it. "Application Support" and it gets me that the same way. So those are the two ways that we have to make sure that Unix knows this one complete thing. It's one file name or one directory name. It's not supposed to be two separate things. Disregard that space.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Unix for Mac OS X Users
Unix for Mac OS X Users

82 video lessons · 25628 viewers

Kevin Skoglund
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 3m 57s
    1. Introduction
      1m 14s
    2. Using the exercise files
      2m 43s
  2. 32m 2s
    1. What is Unix?
      7m 27s
    2. The terminal application
      4m 23s
    3. Logging in and using the command prompt
      5m 19s
    4. Command structure
      5m 22s
    5. Kernel and shells
      5m 25s
    6. Unix manual pages
      4m 6s
  3. 15m 58s
    1. The working directory
      2m 49s
    2. Listing files and directories
      3m 59s
    3. Moving around the filesystem
      4m 58s
    4. Filesystem organization
      4m 12s
  4. 1h 4m
    1. Naming files
      5m 41s
    2. Creating files
      2m 19s
    3. Unix text editors
      6m 39s
    4. Reading files
      5m 35s
    5. Reading portions of files
      3m 27s
    6. Creating directories
      2m 40s
    7. Moving and renaming files and directories
      8m 32s
    8. Copying files and directories
      3m 7s
    9. Deleting files and directories
      3m 38s
    10. Finder aliases in Unix
      4m 10s
    11. Hard links
      5m 30s
    12. Symbolic links
      6m 36s
    13. Searching for files and directories
      6m 32s
  5. 34m 58s
    1. Who am I?
      4m 3s
    2. Unix groups
      1m 52s
    3. File and directory ownership
      6m 41s
    4. File and directory permissions
      4m 27s
    5. Setting permissions using alpha notation
      6m 49s
    6. Setting permissions using octal notation
      3m 49s
    7. The root user
      1m 57s
    8. sudo and sudoers
      5m 20s
  6. 52m 34s
    1. Command basics
      4m 4s
    2. The PATH variable
      4m 13s
    3. System information commands
      3m 40s
    4. Disk information commands
      6m 8s
    5. Viewing processes
      5m 0s
    6. Monitoring processes
      3m 36s
    7. Stopping processes
      3m 19s
    8. Text file helpers
      6m 50s
    9. Utility programs
      7m 28s
    10. Using the command history
      8m 16s
  7. 20m 39s
    1. Standard input and standard output
      1m 24s
    2. Directing output to a file
      4m 13s
    3. Appending to a file
      2m 44s
    4. Directing input from a file
      5m 28s
    5. Piping output to input
      4m 40s
    6. Suppressing output
      2m 10s
  8. 41m 28s
    1. Profile, login, and resource files
      9m 11s
    2. Setting command aliases
      6m 59s
    3. Setting and exporting environment variables
      4m 54s
    4. Setting the PATH variable
      6m 10s
    5. Configuring history with variables
      6m 17s
    6. Customizing the command prompt
      6m 5s
    7. Logout file
      1m 52s
  9. 1h 25m
    1. grep: Searching for matching expressions
      5m 21s
    2. grep: Multiple files, other input
      4m 28s
    3. grep: Coloring matched text
      2m 57s
    4. Introduction to regular expressions
      3m 22s
    5. Regular expressions: Basic syntax
      3m 19s
    6. Using regular expressions with grep
      5m 20s
    7. tr: Translating characters
      8m 17s
    8. tr: Deleting and squeezing characters
      5m 30s
    9. sed: Stream editor
      7m 45s
    10. sed: Regular expressions and back-references
      7m 8s
    11. cut: Cutting select text portions
      7m 42s
    12. diff: Comparing files
      4m 35s
    13. diff: Alternative formats
      4m 30s
    14. xargs: Passing argument lists to commands
      7m 25s
    15. xargs: Usage examples
      7m 59s
  10. 42m 25s
    1. Finder integration
      4m 45s
    2. Clipboard integration
      5m 5s
    3. Screen capture
      3m 42s
    4. Shut down, reboot, and sleep
      3m 34s
    5. Text to speech
      2m 36s
    6. Spotlight integration: Searching metadata
      3m 41s
    7. Spotlight integration: Metadata attributes
      4m 24s
    8. Using AppleScript
      5m 23s
    9. System configurations: Viewing and setting
      5m 51s
    10. System configurations: Examples
      3m 24s
  11. 1m 26s
    1. Conclusion
      1m 26s

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