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Terminal Commands You Should Learn for Python Coding

    Working with Python can be an enjoyable, productive, and educational experience. To take full advantage of what the language offers, however, it is important to become familiar with terminal commands. Knowing a few basic commands for working with Python code on your computer can save you time and help you become a more efficient programmer.

    The following list offers some terminal commands you should learn if you plan on developing applications in Python. It is by no means comprehensive, but it gives novice programmers a start when working in the command line interface (CLI).

    These terminal commands work for Linux systems as well as Mac OS X systems. For Windows users, most of these commands behave similarly or have the same syntax when using the command prompt and PowerShell interfaces that come with Windows operating systems.

    Basic Commands

    Learning basic terminal commands is essential for mastering Python coding. Knowing the right tools and commands can help you become more efficient as a programmer. In this article, we’ll go over some of the most common terminal commands you should know to use when coding in Python. These commands are essential for getting the most out of your Python coding experience.

    cd – change directory

    The ‘cd’ command allows a user to quickly change directories in the terminal. The command works by taking an argument, which is the path of the desired directory. This can be a relative path or an absolute path depending on what is needed at that time.

    For example, if you wanted to navigate from your current directory to its parent (a directory up in the tree), you could simply type ‘cd ..’. However, if you wanted to enter a specific directory inside the parent, then you would enter ‘cd path/to/desired/directory’.

    Once you reach your desired location, it is easy to traverse back and forth without typing out absolute paths every time. All that is required is typing ‘cd [directory_name]’ to move one level up or one level down within the tree structure of files on your computer.

    The ‘cd’ command is essential for using Python on the terminal as it will allow you to access files and directories stored on your machine so that they can be edited and worked with in Python code. As such, this command should definitely be mastered before attempting any sort of coding project.

    ls – list directory contents

    The ls command, short for “list”, is used to view the content of a directory. The syntax for running this command is ls [options] [file]. For example, you can use the command “ls -al” to list all files in long format, which includes file attributes and timestamps.

    The ls command can also be used with other options as follows:
    • -a/–all: show all files, including hidden files
    • -l: show long format
    •-s/–sort: sort output by size
    •-r/–reverse: reverse sort order
    •-t: sort output by time stamp.

    By using these options together, you can easily see which files are new or have recently been modified. You can also use this command to check permissions and ownership of specific files in a directory. As such, it is an essential part of basic terminal commands every Python coder should know how to use.

    mkdir – make directory

    The mkdir command is used to create directories in the terminal. This command stands for “make directory” and it is used to create a structure of parent and child folders.

    For example, suppose you want to create a folder called “Python” in your user directory. To do this, you can type the following into the terminal:

    mkDIR ~/Python

    This will create a folder called “Python” in your user directory. To list the contents of that directory simply type: LS ~/Python This will output all files and subdirectories within the “Python” directory. You can use other commands with mkdir such as chmod which changes the permissions on a file or folder, cp which copies files and folders, mv which moves files and folders, rmdir for removing empty directories and rm for deleting non-empty directories.

    rm – remove files or directories

    The rm command removes specified files or directories. When used without any flags, it will permanently delete any argument(s) passed to it. As this can result in data loss, use caution when running the command without any options (also known as flags). It is commonly used with the -i flag, which prompts for confirmation before deleting the file(s) or directory(ies). It is also recommended to call rm with -f, which forces the removal of write-protected files. Finally, rm accepts -r or -R to recursively traverse a directory structure and remove all nested entries.

    Given the chance of accidental data deletion, it is always a good practice to limit recursion by having -r be its own option instead of adding f (force) or i (interactive prompt). For example: rm -rf instead of rm -f. If you have multiple files or directories to delete, they can all be listed as individual parameters within one call to the command: rm file1 file2 directory1.

    rmdir – remove empty directories

    The rmdir command, short for remove directory, is a command used to delete an empty directory in MacOS, Linux, and other Unix-like operating systems. In addition to deleting an empty directory, you can also use the -p flag with rmdir to remove directories and their contents recursively.

    Rmdir has many options that help you control how it works on your system. Firstly, the -p switch will cause rmdir to delete a directory and its parent directories when the targeted directory is empty. This is useful if you want to delete an entire branch of directories quickly and efficiently. Furthermore, if you’d like to ignore nonexistent or nonempty directories when using the -p flag with rmdir then use the –ignore-fail-on-non-empty option along with it.

    To remove an empty directory using rmdir without the -p flag then simply type the command followed by the path of the target folder i.e., . If a nonempty subdirectory exists within that target folder then you can use either of two flags — -r or –recursive — along with rmdir in order to delete it even if it has its own distinct set of files and subdirectories inside of it; however, be very careful when doing this as any data contained within those folders will be permanently deleted.

    Rmdir should primarily be used for deleting empty directories as it does not provide any sort of confirmation before removing data from your system; always make sure that there is nothing important inside your target folders before attempting this command and be aware that there is no way to undo a deletion once you’ve done so successfully!

    Advanced Commands

    As a Python developer, there are some Terminal commands you should learn to become a more efficient programmer. In this article, we’ll cover the most advanced commands that can help you speed up your workflow with complex coding tasks. These commands can become invaluable tools to quickly accomplish programming tasks and improve your coding productivity.

    grep – search for patterns in files

    The grep command searches inside files for search patterns and prints the matching strings. It’s useful for quickly searching through large collections of files, but it’s especially helpful when working with code. It can be used to find specific terms in your code or to help you analyze the codebase as a whole.

    For instance, let’s say you want to locate a certain method in your program that involves string manipulation. If you use grep, you can easily find all references to it by typing ‘grep string_manipulation *.py’. This will print out all lines that reference the method in question across any Python file in the current directory – making it very quick and easy to track down what you’re looking for!

    The flexibility of grep makes it an extremely powerful tool for developers who are trying to debug their programs – or just review their own code more efficiently. Grep is a powerful command-line tool that helps you search through files much faster than using a text editor alone. Combined with other terminal commands like ls and find, grep becomes even more versatile and effective at helping developers track down the information they need quickly and easily.

    find – search for files in a directory tree

    The ‘find’ command is a powerful search command that allows you to search for files, directories and text strings within the current directory and its subdirectories. It can also be used to execute actions on files found with its powerful combination of selectors and actions.

    The basic syntax for finding a file or directory is as follows:
    find <dir> -name <file or directory>
    This will recursively search from the specified directory until you stop it. Wildcards can be used, if required, to do more complicated searches based on name, type, size etc.:
    find <dir> -name "*.py"
    This will find any files with the “.py” extension in any of the directories under “dir”.

    Using the -exec option makes it possible to execute a command against each file returned by your find query:
    find <dir> -name "*.py" -exec grep keyword {} \;
    This would perform a recursive grep on each Python script in the specified folder, looking for lines containing your specific keyword. The {} specifies which item should be substituted for a command line argument in your command and \; closes off the exec action of find. With such fine-grained control over searching files across multiple directories and performing commands on them you can quickly become an expert user of this versatile Linux tool!

    chmod – change file permissions

    The chmod command is a powerful tool that allows users to change the permission settings of files or directories. This is important when working with files created by different users or in directories shared by multiple people. There are three sets of permission settings for each file, which can be represented in octal (base 8) numeric notation or symbolic notation:

    -Read (r): This permission allows a user to open and read a file.
    -Write (w): This permission allows a user to modify and save changes to a file.
    -Execute (x): This permission allows a user to run an executable file, like a script or binary program.

    To use the chmod command, type “chmod” followed by the abbreviated numerical or symbolic form for each desired permission setting. For example, typing “chmod u+w filename” will add write permissions for the user owning that file. Typing “chmod g+x filename” will add execute permissions for all other users in the group associated with that file. It’s also possible to use octal notation when specifying permissions settings; adding read and write access could be represented as 0600, while adding executable access might look like 0700. These octal codes are often seen in automated scripts where precise access rules need to be applied quickly and consistently across folders and files on Unix-based systems such as macOS and Linux operating systems.

    tar – archive files

    Tar is a powerful command line tool for managing and archiving multiple files and directories. It can be used to package multiple files and directories into a single file in order to improve manageability or ease of transfer. The tar command dates back to early versions of Unix, but it can also be used on modern operating systems such as Linux and macOS.

    The basic syntax for the tar command is tar -cf filename.tar file1 ... filen. This will create an archive named filename.tar which contains all the files listed after the command (as long as they exist).

    The -c flag indicates that we want to create an archive, while the -f flag specifies an output filename, in this case filename.tar. If no messages appear after running this command then it was successful. To check if this actually worked you can list the contents of the folder where you issued the command – you should see your newly created archive there!

    Other useful flags include:
    -z: Compress with gzip for better storage efficiency
    -j: Compress with bzip2 for better memory usage efficiency
    -v: Invoke verbose mode – shows more details about what is happening
    -x: Extract an existing tar archive
    –delete: Delete files from an existing tar archive

    ssh – securely access remote computers

    The ssh command, also known as Secure Shell, is a secure way to remotely access the command line of a remote computer or server. SSH provides the ability to connect to remote computers and servers, securely transferring files from one machine to another and other types of data sharing.

    This command is especially useful for coding in Python and other programming languages because it enables you to run scripts on remote computers that do not have access to the internet. You can also use this commands to develop a script on your local machine without having an internet connection. To use SSH, first create an account on a remote machine with Linux or another variant of Unix operating system installed, then use the following syntax:

    ssh user@remote-hostname-or-ip-address

    Once logged in, you can start running commands like ls and cd as if you were logged into your local computer terminal. You then can transfer files between machines using scp which has a syntax almost identical with rsync.

    SSH is essential for any Python developer who needs access to a remote server or computer so they can develop their codes more efficiently on development machines instead of relying solely on their local setup. As part of good security practice, authenticate every remote connection with public key cryptography instead of passwords only when possible.


    By learning the essential terminal commands, you now have the ability to control your computer and execute your Python code with ease. Knowing these commands will also help streamline your workflow so that you can produce more efficient coding results in less time. As always, practice makes perfect. Continue to experiment with both familiar and new terminal commands as part of honing your Python coding skills. With the right tools, software engineering tasks turn into fun and engaging puzzles!

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