“ls” command in Ubuntu

In this article, we would discuss “ls” command in Ubuntu. We also cover its associated options and arguments.

With the help of ls command-line utility, we get to list the contents of a directory. If we open a terminal and just enter the following command –


It will show us the names of files and directories present in a particular directory. This is pretty much everything a simple “ls” command can do. However, if we want to extract more out of it then, we need to provide options and arguments.

But, first a bit about options and arguments. We need to understand the concept –

options – these are basically single letters preceded by hyphen(-). For instance –

ls -a

If we want the command to recognize a word as an option then that word needs to be preceded by double hyphens(–)

ls --version

Lastly, an argument on which the command-line utility can act on. This can be filename, directory name, device etc.

ls -l /etc/hosts
“ls” command in Ubuntu

Now, coming back to the purpose of the article – “ls” command.

Here, we will use various options and arguments which can be utilized effectively with ls command.

I. ls – a basically lists all the files and directories. When we say all the files and directories it includes hidden as well.

ls -a

II. ls -A it lists all the file and directories which ls -a shows as output except implied . and ..

ls -A

III. ls -l –block-size= this is used to scale sizes. It will list the size of files in MBs. For KBs, we can use K –

ls -l --block-size=M


ls -l --block-size=K

IV. ls –color= this is used to colorize the output. Valid arguments are –

- 'yes', 'always' and 'force'
- 'no', 'never' and 'none'
- 'auto', 'tty' and 'if-tty'
ls --color=no

The above command will decolorize the output.

V. ls -l use a long list format.

ls -l

VI. ls -g similar to ls -l, but doesn’t display the owner.

ls -g

VII. ls -h for human readable format, use it with -l or -s option

ls -hl


ls -hs

VIII. ls -i prints index number (inode) of each file/directory.

ls -i

IX. ls -S to sort the files/directories by size. The largest of those will be displayed first.

ls -Sl

X. ls –version to display the installed version number and other information.

ls --version

In conclusion, ls command-line utility is a great tool if we want to analyse file/directories effectively. If you want to try more command options then, it is always good to use –

ls --help