Understanding Linux File System Hierarchy – Part 2: Advanced Structure


Building on the core directories covered in Part 1, this article explores the more advanced aspects of the Linux file system hierarchy. Understanding these elements is key for advanced Linux users and system administrators.

/proc – Process Information

The /proc directory is a virtual file system that provides a mechanism to access kernel and process information. It contains a wealth of information about system resources and runtime data pertinent to currently running processes.

/sys – System Configuration

/sys is another virtual file system, similar to /proc, but it focuses on information about devices, drivers, and some kernel features. It plays a critical role in system configuration.

/sbin – System Binaries

While /bin contains essential user binaries, /sbin is reserved for system administration binaries. These programs are generally used for system maintenance and are not intended for regular users.

/srv – Service Data

The /srv directory contains data specific to services offered by the system. This could include web server data, FTP files, and more, depending on the services running on the Linux system.

/tmp – Temporary Files

/tmp is used for storing temporary files created by system programs and users. Files in /tmp are usually deleted upon reboot or can be deleted at any time by system utilities.

/usr – Secondary Hierarchy

/usr is one of the largest directories and can be thought of as a secondary hierarchy. It contains all the user binaries, their documentation, libraries, header files, and so forth. It’s further subdivided into /usr/bin, /usr/sbin, /usr/local, among others.

/var – Variable Files

The /var directory stores variable data like logs (/var/log), mail (/var/mail), and queued files. This directory’s contents are meant to persist from one boot to the next.

/run – Runtime Data

Introduced in recent Linux distributions, /run is a temporary file system that stores transient runtime data, including process IDs and lock files. It replaces several previous directories with a unified location for runtime data.

Special Directories and Files

Linux has special directories and files like /lost+found, which is used by the file system for recovery purposes, and various dot files that are hidden and used for configuration.

Managing File System Hierarchy

The article can offer best practices for managing the Linux file system, such as proper maintenance of /tmp, security considerations for /srv, and the importance of regular backups for /var.


This article completes the comprehensive overview of the Linux file system hierarchy. With a better understanding of both core and advanced directories, users and administrators can navigate and manage Linux systems more effectively.


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