For all the newbies out there who have just acquired their first computer, here's the map for finding your way around the many paths inside it.
Building with Paths

Confidence in using paths helps with a surprising variety of more complex topics. The environment variable $PATH is a list of ordinary paths separated by colons. The shell uses it to search for program files to execute. Many programs use special variables to establish the base path for their operations; it is useful to know how to construct a path when one is called for as a command parameter.

We saw how paths feature in the absolute names of files. They also appear in URLs (Uniform Resource Locators, commonly associated with the World Wide Web). Paths may be one of the first things you learn, but their applications are endless.

Lynda Williams ( mentors faculty at the University of Northern B.C. in the development of web sites, supported by her Linux server, ( and teaches survival tactics for computing to first-year students in her computing applications course ( Her pioneering work in the community networking movement (telnet is another expression of her interest in popularizing computing technology. She can be reached via e-mail at


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