Unlike Windows, Ubuntu has a very unusual directory structure. Everything in Ubuntu is stored under directories and there are no visible partitions.

Users who are new to Ubuntu may find it mind-numbing or confusing to locate their information within the complex structure of directories. Here, in this article, we try to explain the Ubuntu directory structure and dig into each commonly used directories.

Ubuntu Directory Structure Explained


The Bin directory contains the executable files for running all the Ubuntu commands like ls, grep, sudo, etc. These files are accessible at system level, i.e. across all users.


The Boot directory holds vital files to help boot the system into action, i.e. these files are used to boot Ubuntu. It includes kernel, ramdisk image and bootloader configuration files. It’s highly recommended to not enter this directory unless critical.


The Dev directory is used to keep track of all the peripheral devices connected to your computer, including internal components like graphics card, sound card, memory sticks, etc. It does not take much space on the hard drive.


The Etc directory includes all the configuration files which are used to store most of the settings you perform on Ubuntu.


The Home directory is user specific like Documents on Windows. Every user will have their own special sub-directory within Home directory where they can store their personal documents and other files.


All the Ubuntu libraries are stored in the Lib directory. Libraries are basically shared resources used by numerous applications.


The directory Media, even though not a core part of Ubuntu, is used as a mounting point when connecting to external storage devices like digital cameras or USB pen drives.


The Mnt directory too is used as mounting point for other file systems which may exists in your computer. Like FAT32 partition of Windows can be mounted here.


The Opt directory holds all the additional or optional software package installations. E.g: If you wish you install Google Desktop, it will reside in Opt directory.


The Proc directory maintains the current state of the entire system. It does not occupy any space and is virtual, residing in the system memory. Only the “root” user (administrative privileges) has access to this directory.


The Sbin directory holds commands for making system-wide modifications. Again, only the “root” user can access this directory.


The Sys directory stores files related to the PnP components of Ubuntu.


Tmp is the one and only temporary directory of Ubuntu where all the temporary data is stored.


The Usr directory generally contains pre-installed programs, wallpapers, themes and few libraries. It’s equivalent to the Program Files folder in Windows.


The Var directory contains all the variable components of the system like webroot directories, databases, etc.

We tried giving a simple overview of the Ubuntu directory structure to amateur users or those seeking to jump from Windows to Ubuntu. I hope it makes your life on Ubuntu simple.