Under Windows, most applications and application data are stored in a special directory known as
C:\Program Files (and occasionally
C:\Program Files (x86)). What is the Ubuntu/Linux equivalent to this path? Is there even one?
Under Windows, most applications and application data are stored in a special directory known as
/usr/bin is where the scripts are that start the programs. The direct equivalent of "Program Files" though is probably
/usr/share (see Filesystem Hierarchy Standard). That directory contains the various support files for most programs.
There probably isn't a direct equivalent however, since, for example, library files are shared across the system (in
/lib) and options are either user specified (in the user's home directory) or universally located in
So installing a program via a deb file, repository or build will likely place files in all of these locations.
[EDIT] And as others note, there is also
/opt/bin and even
/usr/games/. So definitely not a direct comparison to
Late Answer - I've created a roadmap for beginners to follow. If they are looking for a file but don't know where to look, they can use the map to roughly navigate around. You can download a hi-res PNG here. You can find the related post here. I will keep updating both the file and the post when time permits, incorporating helpful comments.
EDIT: See also d4nyll's answer below for an excellent and beginner-friendly map!
Read my answer below for more info on what the
PATH environment variable is, what
.desktop files are, and how to find a specific program using various linux commands.
There is no easy answer.
As mentioned in the other answers, you can find most executables under
/usr/bin, and the support files are installed in
There are however more directories in which Ubuntu installs applications. The
PATH variable, which determines where to search for an entered command, might give you a clue, mine looks like (
echo $PATH in a terminal):
As you can see some software is installed in
/usr/local and have their own directory and
bin. Another place where many programs are installed is
/opt. The properties of these locations are explained by the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard, which is a very good read. Unfortunately, the difference between
/usr/local is not very well explained, someone on the unix stackexchange had a more elaborate explanation:
/usr/localis a place to install files built by the administrator, usually by using the make command. The idea is to avoid clashes with files that are part of the operating systems that would either be overwritten or overwrite the local ones otherwise. eg.
/usr/bin/foois part of the OS while
/usr/local/bin/foois a local alternative,
/optis a directory to install unbundled packages each in their own subdirectory. They are already built whole packages provided by an independent third party software distributor. For example
someappwould be installed in
/opt/someapp, one of its command would be in
/opt/someapp/bin/foo[and then usually a symbolic link is made in one of the
bindirectories in the
PATH, or the program is called from a desktop file (see below)].
Finding a specific program or command
To find out where a specific program is installed, you can do a number of steps. First you need to locate its
.desktop file. Desktop files are simular to shortcuts in Windows, and for system applications they are located in
/usr/share/applications. The desktop files for applications that are only available for the current user are in
~/.local/share/applications. Take for example Google Chrome, which has the desktop file
/usr/share/applications/google-chrome.desktop and look for the line that starts with
Exec=, this determines how to start Google Chrome. It says:
So you know Google Chrome is in
Now for Mozilla Firefox which is located in
/usr/share/applications/firefox.desktop. It simply says
At first this doesn't seem to help that much, but then you realize that
firefox must be in a directory that is in the
PATH variable (most likely a
bin), and we can look it up (see below).
Looking up commands
To look up commands you can use one or more of the following:
whereis (I've included a link to their manual pages online).
type: it describes a command, and indicates how it would be interpreted if used as a command name. Possible types for a command are:
- alias (shell alias)
- function (shell function)
- builtin (shell builtin)
- file (disk file)
- keyword (shell reserved word)
(type itself is a shell builtin, try it with
type firefoxgives us
firefox is /usr/bin/firefox
which is what we wanted to know
If a command is a file (which you checked with
type) you can then also use:
which: shows the full path of the command,
which firefoxgives us
whereis: locate the binary, source, and manual page files for a command.
whereis firefoxgives us
firefox: /usr/bin/firefox /etc/firefox /usr/lib/firefox /usr/lib64/firefox /usr/bin/X11/firefox /usr/share/man/man1/firefox.1.gz
You can inspect
/usr/bin/firefox closer with
ls -l /usr/bin/firefox and this gives:
/usr/bin/firefox -> ../lib/firefox/firefox.sh*
It appears that
/usr/bin/firefox is 'only' a symbolic link to the script
/usr/lib/firefox/firefox.sh. If you inspect the script you discover that the script calls
You may rest in peace now :)
There is no single directory that is the exact equivalent of Program Files folder. The way Linux arranges things is a lot different than Windows.
In windows, every program that we install gets its own directory inside the Program Files directory. In that directory, further sub-directories are created for different kind of files. There is no fixed structure for sub-directories. Programs decide for themselves what they want to call each directory and where they want to put what.
But in Linux when a program is installed, different kind of files are copied to different locations. Executables are copied to /usr/bin, library files to /usr/lib, documentation to one or more of /usr/man, /usr/info and /usr/doc. If there are configuration files, they are usually in the user's home directory or in /etc.
C:\Program Files folder would be
/usr/bin in Ubuntu.
/bin looks more like
From the manual page of the filesystem hierarchy:
/bin This directory contains executable programs which are needed in single user mode and to bring the system up or repair it. /usr/bin This is the primary directory for executable programs. Most programs executed by normal users which are not needed for booting or for repairing the system and which are not installed locally should be placed in this directory.
Ubuntu has a different structure than windows. Ubuntu places almost all applications in one directory, say
/usr/bin. Windows would make a new folder, say
Mozilla Firefox, and add configuration, executables, DLL's, images, etc. in it. Ubuntu splits them up, executables go in
/usr/bin, system-wide configuration in
/etc, shared objects in
/usr/lib, images in
Linux 'Program Files' are in the whole hierarchy. It could be on
/opt/..., or in another directories.
I think you are going to find some file related to your application. Then, I have an idea on how to looks files which are installed on program installation.
sudo apt-get install synapticon terminal.
- Look for package you want, search on the search text input.
- Right-click the package and select
- Move to
Installed Filetab. The result is same as
dpkg -L package_name.
- There you'll find all files installed for the package.
It is because linux move the installed file to directories separately based on their type.
- Executable goes to
- Icon goes to
- Whole application (portable) on
- Shortcut usually on
- Documentation on
- Library / module on
And many other directories. (CMIIW, accepting correction)
In this answer when I say Unix I mean Unix as well as Unix-like operating systems.
Ubuntu doesn't really have a programs folder containing all of the data for each program. In Unix and Unix-like operating systems, EVERYTHING is a file, even the terminal commands. They're files as well. The way Unix handles programs can be pretty chaotic, and organized at the same time.
Icons for programs are stored in /usr/share/icons/*, program executables are usually stored in /usr/bin, /bin, and other places with bin directories (bin is obv short for binary). Libraries that programs depend on are in /lib.
So you end up with not a directory containing all of the data for one program, but the data for the program spread out. While at first this seems very disorganized, it allows for sharing of standard things like libraries and icons.
Thanks to permissions for each file, the idea of everything being a file is very brilliant to be honest. It makes Unix MUCH more secure than other operating systems.
The way that Linux and Windows programs are installed is quite different.
The common pattern in Windows is for a program; or a bunch of programs, from one vendor go into its own sub directory in C:\programs\vendor or something similar.
In Linux, your files are split up between specific sub directories depending on their function. There are directories for libraries, icons, man pages, Log files, configuration and so on. You may use some of them, but the system will manage all of them. They are not coupled together, but exist together with similar files from other programs.
So there is no real equivalent to that Windows directory structure in a regular Linux implementation.
If you install own programmes, I recommend 1 folder:
/usr/bin, and anything else that says
protected by Braiam May 24 '15 at 14:56
Thank you for your interest in this question.
Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).
Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?