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Donald K. Burleson

Oracle Tips

UNIX vs. DOS command syntax

Back in the days before Microsoft Windows dominated the PC market, operating system were controlled by commands.  Prior to MS-Windows, PC users were required to learn these commands in order to perform routine tasks.  During the 1980s, Microsoft DOS dominated the PC market while the early UNIX command systems were used on larger multi-processing servers. 

The main difference between UNIX and DOS is that DOS was originally designed for single-user systems, while UNIX was designed for systems with many users.

While PC’s have evolved into GUI interfaces such as Windows, UNIX systems have never evolved into GUI environments.  Hence, The Oracle professional must master a bewildering number of cryptic UNIX commands in order to manage their Oracle databases, both on Windows NT and UNIX.

One of the most confounding issues for the UNIX neophyte is being confronted with a complex UNIX command.  The cryptic nature of UNIX is such that even the most seasoned UNIX professional may have trouble deciphering the purpose of the command.

Because UNIX and MS-DOS were developed at the same time they share some common syntax, and the UNIX neophyte will be happy to find many common commands and concepts.  The list below shows some of the commonality between UNIX and MS-DOS commands:

  • Changing directories – both DOS and UNIX utilize the cd commands for this purpose, but UNIX has the “cd –“ command that allows you to flip-flop between your last two directories.

  • Display file contents – UNIX has the “cat” command” and DOS uses the “type” command.

  • Setting file permissions – DOS uses the “attrib” command while UNIX uses the “chmod” command to change file permissions.

  • Copying files – DOS uses the “copy” command, while UNIX uses the “cp” command.

  • Comparing two files – UNIX uses the “diff” command and DOS has the “fc” command.

  • Printing files – UNIX uses the “lp” command while DOS uses the “print” command.

  • Moving files – DOS uses the “rename” command and UNIX uses the “mv” command.

  • Make a directory – UNIX uses the “mkdir” command while DOS has the “md” command.

  • Display directory contents – UNIX uses the “ls” command and DOS has the “dir” command.

  • Delete files – DOS uses the “del” command while UNIX has the “rm” command.

  • Display the OS version – DOS uses the “ver” command while UNIX has the “uname –a” command.

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