1.4. File Management

A central part of your desktop environment is a file manager application, enabling you easily to create, access, and manage all files on your system. Traditional file management in Linux would have been done via the command line, requiring some deeper knowledge of several commands to list, create, delete, or edit files and their properties. A file manager provides a graphical and more intuitive way to handle these tasks. Learn more about the file managers of GNOME and KDE in Section 3.3, “File Management with Nautilus” and Section 4.3, “Konqueror as a File Manager”.

1.4.1. The Concept behind a Linux File System

Unlike a Windows operating system, Linux does not use drive letters. In Windows, you would address the floppy drive as A:\, Windows system data is under C:\, and so on. In Linux, all files and directories are located in a tree-like structure. The topmost directory is referred to as the file system root or just /. All other directories can be accessed from here.

The following is a short guide through the Linux file system tree, introducing the most important directories:


/home holds the private data of every user who has an account on your system. The files located here can only be modified by their owner or the system administrator. Your e-mail directory is located here, for example.


/media generally holds any type of drive except the hard drive of your system. Your USB flash drive appears under /media once you have connected it, as does your digital camera (if it uses USB) or your DVD or CD drive. As soon as the data source is disconnected (think of an USB flash drive or your camera), the respective directory under media is removed as well.


Under /usr/share/doc, find any kind of documentation on your Linux system and the installed packages. The manual subdirectory holds a digital copy of this manual as well as the Administration Guide and the release notes of the installed version of SUSE LINUX. The packages directory holds the documentation included in the software packages.


If you have both MS Windows and Linux installed on your ystem, this is where you find the MS Windows data.

Learn more about the Linux file system concept and find a more comprehensive list of directories in Section 19.1.2, “Files and Directories”.

1.4.2. Different Flavors of Your File Manager

Apart from organizing all your data and previewing almost any type of file, your file manager can act as a “quick finder” for personal data, system information, and network services. These modules are part of your standard desktop.

Home Directory

Use the Home desktop icon in GNOME or the icon depicting a small house in the KDE panel to launch your file manager (Nautilus in GNOME, Konqueror in KDE) showing all the contents of your home directory. This option allows you to quickly retrieve any personal data located in your home directory.

Your System

If you need to know which hard drives or removable media are connected to your system, click the desktop icons Computer (GNOME) or My Computer (KDE). The file managers provide an overview of all drives attached to your system, including the hard drives. As you click one of the drives listed there, the file manager opens the files and directories located on this drive. This option allows you to locate data on any kind of removable device attached to your system. A digital camera appears in this list as does a USB flash or hard drive.

Your Network

Use the Places menu in the top GNOME panel to access network folders. In KDE, click the Network Browsing desktop icon to gather all services provided in your network. Use this functionality to access available network shares and Windows networks, FTP servers, or any other service type that has been registered for your network.

1.4.3. Searching Files

If you need to search for certain file across the whole system, use the graphical search applications provided by your desktop environment. In GNOME, select Places+Search for Files to launch the search tool. The first dialog prompts you for the name or at least a part of the name of the file. Specify the directory to search for the file. If you know for sure the file should be located in your home directory, accept the /home/<username> path that has automatically been selected. To launch a search on the entire file system, select the file system root by entering /. Refine your search by adding more search criteria. Click Show more options and select any of the criteria offered there. It is even possible to use regular expressions or wild cards. As soon as you enter all data, hit Find to launch the search and see the result in the bottom part of the window. Depending on the scope of your search, the whole process may take a considerable amount of time.

KDE contains the application KFind, which is launched from the main menu with Find Files. The search window is divided into the tabs Name/Location, Contents, and Properties. In the Name/Location tab, enter the name of the file using wild cards, like asterisks or question marks, if needed. Enter the path to search and determine whether the search should include subfolders or be case sensitive. The Contents tab is used to search the contents of files for certain expressions. This type of search is only supported for a limited number of file types. such as text files and OpenOffice.org or KWord formats. You can even use regular expressions if KRegExpEditor is installed (package kdeutils3-extra). To limit the scope of the search by providing attributes like file owner, file size, or modification date, use the Properties tab.

[Tip]More Information about Search Patterns

For more information about search patterns and the use of wild cards or regular expressions, refer to Section 19.1, “Introduction to Bash”.

SUSE LINUX User Guide 9.3