Seeing the forest with tree

The Next Generation

The ls command existed in the first version of Unix [3]. It remains a core command, and tree is not immediately obvious as an enhanced, next-generation replacement.

However, the minor advantages of tree start to add up. In particular, its ability to exclude large portions of the directory structure and its extra sorting abilities make it slightly quicker for finding most files and directories.

Additionally, its visual representation of drives should not be underestimated. By desktop standards, tree's representation of files and directories is primitive. Yet the tree is how people are taught to think about files and directories, and to see your mental representation on the screen only makes interacting with tree easier.

The advantage of tree is not great in any single case. However, the more you do file management at the command prompt, the more tree's advantages mount. Take the time to learn it, and you might decide that ls has had its day.

For more information, check out the extensive examples of how to use tree from Barracuda Firewall [4].

The Author

Bruce Byfield is a computer journalist and a freelance writer and editor specializing in free and open source software. In addition to his writing projects, he also teaches live and e-learning courses. In his spare time, Bruce writes about Northwest coast art. You can read more of his work at

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF

Pages: 4

Price $2.95
(incl. VAT)

Buy Raspberry Pi Geek

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content