Understanding Linux’s “Everything is a File” Philosophy

ujjwal bansal
2 min readSep 19, 2023

Introduction

The Linux operating system is renowned for its elegant and unifying concept known as the “Everything is a file” philosophy. This foundational principle lies at the heart of Linux’s design and operation, shaping the way it manages resources, interacts with hardware, and stores configuration information. Understanding this philosophy is essential for anyone seeking to grasp the inner workings of Linux and harness its power effectively. In this article, we delve into the significance of this concept, shedding light on how it simplifies resource management and contributes to the efficiency of Linux systems.

With the philosophy describe above we can say that hardware devices, system configuration settings, even processes running in linux and other resources are represented and accessed through the file system.

Devices

In Linux, hardware devices are represented as files in the /dev directory. For example, hard drives, USB devices, and other peripherals are exposed as device files, such as /dev/sda for the first hard drive.

/dev directory

Processes

Running processes are represented as directories and files under the /proc directory. Each process has its own directory named by its process ID (PID), and you can access various information about the process by reading files within this directory.

/proc directory

Configuration

System configuration settings are often stored in text files located in the /etc directory. For example, network configuration, user account settings, and other system configurations are typically stored as plain text files.

/etc directory

Note: Above images of /proc, /etc and /dev directory are from my personal system, they might be different in your case.

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ujjwal bansal

Propagating a life-changing perspective to everyone is my motive. Writing my own expirences or learnings to empower others.