Ubuntu General Quick Reference
January 14, 2019

Ubuntu General Quick Reference

Just a place for me to jot down some useful commands when working with the Ubuntu command line.

General Commands

Commands I use often:

Command Explanation
pwd Print the working directory
ls -lha List the contents of the working directory, +all files +human readable filesizes +long format
cd - Go back to the previous directory
df -h Show used / available space by partition
top or htop Show current running processes
ps -A | less & kill ... List all processes, kill a process
sudo ps aux | grep MY-PROC-NAME Find a process with a given name
rm -rf Remove a directory +recursive +force
sudo -u www-data COMMAND Run a COMMAND as another user
adduser USERNAME Add a user
usermod -aG sudo USERNAME or adduser USERNAME sudo Add user USERNAME to the sudo group
sudo passwd USERNAME (Re)set the password for a user
sudo chown -R www-data:www-data * Recursively change the ownership or all files and folders in/under the current directory (to user/group www-data)
sudo chmod g+w -R /var/www/xyz.com/ Add write privilege for the group recursively for the given directory
hostnamectl set-hostname new-hostname Set the host name
vi /etc/hosts Edit the hosts file
tail -f ... Watch the "tail" of a file
su -www-data Switch to user www-data
find . -iname "mysql-bin.000*" Find files
locate -i filename Find a file (faster, needs apt-get install locate and then sudo updatedb)

Read UsingTheTerminal for a good overview of...using the terminal!


Command Explanation
a2ensite ... Enable a site
a2dissite ... Disable a site
systemctl reload apache2 Reload apache
a2query -s List all enabled sites (Apache)
apache2ctl -S List all enabled sites (Apache, another method)


Command Explanation
vi /etc/ssh/sshd_config Edit config (for example, disable un/pw login)
sudo service sshd restart Restart sshd (and apply changes in sshd_config)

To enable un/pw access for a specific IP range only, you can add to the end of the file:

# Settings that override the global settings for matching IP addresses only
# Allow un/pw auth for home NAS:
Match address 111.222.333.444
    PasswordAuthentication yes


Command Explanation
service --status-all List all services

Performance and Resource Monitoring

Command Explanation
free -m Overview of aggregate memory usage
top Listof processes ordered by CPU and memory usage
free -m

Or install htop:

sudo apt-get install htop and then sudo htop

Midnight Commander

Keys Explanation
INS Select files
* Reverse selection (or select all files, if nothing was selected)
CTRL+o Access the quick shell
ALT+, Switch panel layout between horizontal and vertical
ALT+i Show current directory in the other panel as well
CTRL+u Swap panels
ALT+SHIFT+h View your directory history
ALT+? Find a file
CTRL+SPACE Calculate file size (use it on .. to calculate all)
CTRL+x...d Compare directories


CertBot for deploying https: https://certbot.eff.org/lets-encrypt/ubuntuxenial-apache


You can place scripts to run every day/week/month into /etc/cron.daily/weekly/monthly, but make sure that the files are executable and that they don't contain any special characters (or even an file ending).

Make a file executable: sudo chmod +x /etc/cron.hourly/backup.sh

Better yet, make sure they have the correct permissions: chmod 600 /etc/cron.d/*

You can find out about when these scripts will be run with cat /etc/crontab

# /etc/crontab: system-wide crontab
# Unlike any other crontab you don't have to run the `crontab'
# command to install the new version when you edit this file
# and files in /etc/cron.d. These files also have username fields,
# that none of the other crontabs do.


# m h dom mon dow user  command
17 *    * * *   root    cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.hourly
25 6    * * *   root    test -x /usr/sbin/anacron || ( cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.daily )
47 6    * * 7   root    test -x /usr/sbin/anacron || ( cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.weekly )
52 6    1 * *   root    test -x /usr/sbin/anacron || ( cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.monthly )

You can see if your script runs by running the appropriate part from the above output, for example to run your weekly cron jobs right now: test -x /usr/sbin/anacron || ( cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.weekly )

Force a cron job to run by "touching" it's definition: touch /etc/cron.d/mycronscript

(root) INSECURE MODE (mode 0600 expected) (crontabs/root)

Fix this with:

 sudo chmod 600 /var/spool/cron/crontabs/root
 sudo touch /var/spool/cron/crontabs

Debug a Cron Job

Two methods come in handy. The first one from a post by rubiojr on askubuntu:

Do not redirect error output to /dev/null and grep /var/log/syslog for cron output.
grep cron /var/log/syslog
You can immediately show errors when saving a file after editing /etc/crontab or files inside /etc/cron.d/ with:
tail -f /var/log/syslog | grep --line-buffered cron
If the edit is ok, you will only see the RELOAD notice, errors will occur like
Jul 9 09:39:01 vm cron[1129]: Error: bad day-of-month; while reading /etc/cron.d/new

You can also see your active cron jobs with crontab -l. But this doesn't show you jobs set in cron.d or cron.daily etc.

The second method is to make your cron job log to a file! See below.

Make a Cron Job Log to a File (with timestamp prepended!)

The following worked for me to redirect output of a cron job to a log file, and to prepend a timestamp at the beginning of the first line. It's also really a great way to debug!


* * * * * www-data { printf "\%s: " "$(date "+\%Y-\%m-\%d \%H:\%M:\%S")"; php /var/www/domain.com/public_html/artisan schedule:run ; } >>/var/www/comain.com/cron_log.log 2>&1

Or if you don't need to prepend a timestamp, just output it to a temprorary log file by appending this to your cron line: >>/tmp/cron_log.log 2>&1

You can also simulate a cron job run with run-parts /etc/cron.daily (for example). However, this doesn't fully simulate the cron environment, so you should also set it to run once a minute and wait for the output to be written to your logfile.

The example task above if for running the OctoberCMS scheduler once every minute.

Free Up Disk Space

Methods for finding large files/folders:

(1) apt-get install ncdu or gt5 & run from the root directory!

(2) Or resort to the command line:

du -a | sort -nr | head
sudo du -a | sort -nr -T /media/usb-key
-- Or if disk is full and the above doesn't work because the temp folder is full:
sudo du -ah --max-depth=1  / | sort -hr
-- You can also find files larger than X mb:
find / -size +10M -ls

Often there are lots of files at: /var/cache/apt/archives
Old apt files are archived here. You can delete them with:

sudo apt-get clean
sudo apt-get autoclean


Enable SQL Server Agent

Agent is disabled by default. Enable it with:

sudo /opt/mssql/bin/mssql-conf set sqlagent.enabled true

Clear up the error logs...

MSSQL fills up your server with error logs after a while. You could...

In SQL Server Management Studio, open the MANAGEMENT folder, then right click on SQL SERVER LOGS and say CONFIGURE.  Check the LIMIT ERROR LOGS box and set the number to 30 (a month's worth).  Now, set up a new job in the SQL Agent that runs sp_cycle_errorlog every night at midnight. (source)

except that this doesn't work on Linux. Instead, read this excellent post on the topic as well as How to configure the number of error logs for your SQL Server instance on Linux! In short:

sudo /opt/mssql/bin/mssql-conf set errorlog.numerrorlogs 6
sudo systemctl restart mssql-server.service
Check that your config was applied with:
sudo cat /var/opt/mssql/mssql.conf

But note!

After you implement this configuration change, you have to manually get rid of the additional error log files that existed before this configuration change went into effect. In the above example, those would be errorlog.7 onwards that needs to be manually cleaned.


Supposedly you don't need one, but ClamAV is free to use and simple enough.

Installation and use:

sudo apt install clamav clamav-daemon
sudo freshclam

Scan the whole system, report on any infected files (but don't remove):
sudo clamscan --max-filesize=3999M --max-scansize=3999M --exclude-dir=/sys/* -i -r /

Scan the home directory and remove and move infected files:
clamscan --infected --remove --move=/home/<user>/viruses --recursive /home

Note: installing clamav and the daemon will result in a daily update of your virus definitions. On a small node this may end up leading to problems. For example, your java processes might get killed off (in my case, Jira).

To disable freshclam, run: sudo update-rc.d clamav-freshclam disable (ref) however it will come back after a reboot.

To uninstall ClamAV, run:

apt-get remove freshclam

There is also a gui client: sudo apt install clamtk

Other options:


Command Explanation
docker container ls List all containers
docker container stop Stop a container
docker container rm Remove a container
docker image ls List all docker images
docker image prune Remove unused docker images
docker image rm ... Remove a docker image

For more commands see the docker docs!

Upgrade your Ubuntu Version

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Security Audit & Incident Respone

Identify services running locally

sudo netstat -plunt

Scan for open ports on another host

  1. Install nmap: sudo apt-get install nmap
  2. Scan for every TCP and UDP open port:
    sudo nmap -n -PN -sT -sU -p- remote_host
  3. See what service is running on a port:
    sudo nmap -PN -p port_number -sV remote_host



  • /var/log/syslog

Check Recent Logins

sudo less /var/log/auth.log

Scan System for Viruses

Install ClamAV

sudo apt install clamav
sudo systemctl stop clamav-freshclam
sudo freshclam
sudo systemctl start clamav-freshclam
clamscan --remove=yes -i -r /

Find All Files that do not end with...

sudo find . -type f ! '(' -name '*.jpg' -o -name '*.png' ')'



Official docs here

Monit is a small Open Source utility for managing and monitoring Unix systems. Monit conducts automatic maintenance and repair and can execute meaningful causal actions in error situations. Monit has built-in a lightweight HTTP(S) interface you can use to browse the Monit server and check the status of all monitored services. From the web interface, you can start, stop and restart processes and disable or enable monitoring of services.

Installing monit:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt install monit
sudo monit
sudo systemctl status monit
sudo vi /etc/monit/monitrc
# ... enable the http interface
sudo systemctl restart monit
sudo systemctl enable monit

By default the web interface is at:

Monit configuration files are located under /etc/monit/ directory.The main configuration file is /etc/monit/monitrc. This file is highly commented out, you can reference it for all configs. By default all files located on /etc/monit/conf.d/ and /etc/monit/conf-enabled/ are read by monit when it is started, you can place your process monitoring configurations on this directory to keep things organized.
Command Explanation
monit status Show status
monit reload Reload configuration files
service monit restart Reload monit service
sudo monit -t Check config files
monit summary Show summary

Monitor Apache & MySql 8 with Monit:

CREATE USER 'monit'@'host_from_which_monit_performs_testing' IDENTIFIED BY 'mysecretpassword';

Then create /etc/monit/conf.d/mysql:

check process mysql with pidfile /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.pid
     start program = "s/usr/sbin/service start mysql" with timeout 60 seconds
     stop program = "/usr/sbin/service stop mysql"
     if failed
        port 3306
        protocol mysql username "monit" password "…"
     then alert

Unfortunately the above does not work well if /etc/mysql/mysql.conf.d/mysqld.cnf is configured with bind-address =

This answer is probably why:

@Matchu your webapp probably isn't connecting to localhost (, but is either using the 172.etc IP address, or connecting via a UNIX socket (which netstat also says is open). I'm pretty sure a lot of APIs will immediately prefer a socket if "localhost" is specified, which somewhat masks this issue. – Daniel Lawson Jan 12 '11 at 3:44

I also tried to allow connections via unix socket in mysqld.cnf and configure monit exactly as follows:

check process mysql with pidfile /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.pid
     start program = "/usr/sbin/service start mysql" with timeout 60 seconds
     stop program = "/usr/sbin/service stop mysql"
     if failed
        unix "/var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock"
        protocol mysql username "monit" password "…"
     then alert

but this didn't work either. So, just comment out the "#if failed..." part.

To monitor apache, follow this tutorial: Configure Monit For MySQL, Apache, NGINX On Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

# Monit - Apache - Default configuration
cat /etc/monit/conf-available/apache2
sudo ln -s /etc/monit/conf-available/apache /etc/monit/conf-enabled/
# Disable conf - if saved in conf-available
sudo rm /etc/monit/conf-enabled/apache
# OR
sudo unlink /etc/monit/conf-enabled/apache
sudo monit reload

Email Alerts with Monit on SSH Logins

Configure your mail settings in /etc/monit/monitrc, this is what worked for me:

set mailserver x@x.com port 465 username "x@x.com" password "x" using tls with timeout 5 seconds
set mail-format { from: x@x.com }
set alert x@x.com
set alert x@x.com not on { instance, action }

Create a new monitoring configuration file in /etc/monit/conf.d/ called ssh_logins:

check file ssh_logins with path /var/log/auth.log
  ignore match "/etc/monit/whitelist_ips.regex"
  alert x@x.com with mail-format { subject: "SSH login on X!" }
  if match "Accepted publickey" then alert

For more detailed instructions, see:

Sources / further reading:

Red Hat Cockpit

The easy-to-use, integrated, glanceable, and open web-based interface for your servers

Install with:

sudo apt-get install cockpit

You should then be able to access the web interface at:

NetData - 50k on GitHub!

Netdata's distributed, real-time monitoring Agent collects thousands of metrics from systems, hardware, containers, and applications with zero configuration. It runs permanently on all your physical/virtual servers, containers, cloud deployments, and edge/IoT devices, and is perfectly safe to install on your systems mid-incident without any preparation.

Install by simply running (without sudo):

bash <(curl -Ss https://my-netdata.io/kickstart.sh) --stable-channel --disable-telemetry

You can then access the web interface at:

Ubuntu General Quick Reference
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