I have been using windows for a long time. And now I have moved on to ubuntu (13.04). I am just 2 to 3 weeks old for ubuntu. I don't understand about the directories like /var , /home, /media etc. . . Can somebody relate all the ubuntu directories to windows directories. That might be so easy for a beginner like me to understand. To be more precise, I don't even know which directory behaves like C: and which one behaves like D: or E: or others. I don't know where to save which kind of docs.

  • 1
    I highly recommend reading the suggested Getting Started With Ubuntu guide in the answer below. One thing you have to keep in mind, is that you are working on a different OS that deals with files in a different way. Everything in Linux is a file, your data, folders, devices, ... There is no C: or D: and by just looking at a directory structure, you don't see one which drive your are working because it really doesn't matter. You won't have a similar C:/D: on your Android or iOS either, right? So take a break and read about the basics of Ubuntu. Once that's covered, you'll feel more comfortable.
    – Jakke
    Jun 26, 2014 at 17:19
  • You should also upgrade! 13.04 is already end of life.
    – Seth
    Jun 27, 2014 at 14:07
  • @Seth: I am stunned at your comment! I was just now thinking to ask a query on what you said. I got a notification window when I connected my device to the internet. It said that I need to upgrade to saucy salamander. I am afraid. Will my current software packages work well in 13.10 as well ? What will happen if didn't upgrade ?
    – Ramvignesh
    Jun 27, 2014 at 14:14
  • I can't tell you if your software will work without knowing what software you have. If it's just Ubuntu software everything should work just fine. If you don't upgrade you won't receive security updates anymore and you will find it hard to get new software and support because everyone else has moved on. If you don't like upgrading then you should install 12.04 or 14.04. These are long term releases, so you'll only have to upgrade every few years.
    – Seth
    Jun 27, 2014 at 14:20
  • @Seth: Okay! Is it possible to upgrade directly from 13.04 to 14.04 ?
    – Ramvignesh
    Jun 27, 2014 at 14:29

3 Answers 3



This picture is worth 1,000 words. The "problem" is that there is no standard used by all distros, and thus each distro makes (minor) variations. For example, while Debian and Ubuntu use /usr/local , other distros use /opt (for installation of packages compiled from source or outside the package management system [apt on ubuntu] ).

BUT - that is the old standard. The new standard is 3.0, see


Some of the highlights:

The source is now valid DocBook XML, with the appropriate tool changes.

New directories, including /run and /sys.

Removal of older compatibility directories, such as /usr/X11R6.

Many typos fixed, and clarifications made to ambiguous sections.

Various distros are in various stages in implementing the new standard.

  • /var - where logs and stuff are stored

  • /home - where the user's files are stored - Windows equivalents \Users\<username> or \Documents and Settings\<username>

  • /media (or /run/media on some systems, i think used to be /mnt or something) - where devices such as USB sticks are usually mounted - the directories within can be the equivalent of D:\, E:\ etc. Windows assigns a letter to each partition and the file manager uses that, whilst Linux use device names (e.g. /dev/sdb1) and mountpoints (e.g. /media/my-memory-stick)

  • / the root of the filesystem - equivalent of C:\ on Windows.

See also:

  • as far as I understand, /media and /mnt are still both used. /media will be used for external HDD's, CDROM, etc where /mnt is still used for e.g. NFS shares, iso files, etc. This is the basic idea anyways, but nothing prevents you from mounting your media, network or files in other locations.
    – Jakke
    Jun 26, 2014 at 17:22
  • @Jakke - Now you are discussing deviations from the "standard" . Although there is not single standard, there are attempts to standardize. See linuxfoundation.org/collaborate/workgroups/lsb/fhs and refspecs.linuxfoundation.org/FHS_2.3/fhs-2.3.html
    – Panther
    Jun 26, 2014 at 18:54
  • @Jakke - BUT, that is the old standard, the new standard is in Beta - linuxbase.org/betaspecs/fhs/fhs.html and linuxfoundation.org/collaborate/workgroups/lsb/fhs-30-draft-1 . Many distros are moving to the new standard, /run for example is used in fedora. See the various distro mailing lists for info.
    – Panther
    Jun 26, 2014 at 18:57
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    @Jakke - Note - the new standard uses /run ( /run/media/$USER ) for removable devices. Fedora is already using the new standard. I am not sure what Ubuntu will do.
    – Panther
    Jun 26, 2014 at 19:13

It's worth noting, in addition to the other answers, that:

  • /usr/bin is a bit like C:\Program Files (stores programs, with the difference that /usr/bin has just binaries of programs while C:\Program Files has folders containing binaries and other files.

  • /home is almost exactly like C:\Users - every user gets a home directory like /home/ramvignesh. Inside this home directory, for each user, there are Pictures, Downloads, Documents, Desktop folders like in Windows.

  • /bin is not unlike C:\Windows in that it contains many of core files of the operating system. It isn't the only folder that does, though.

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