Often when administering a Linux server, you move around between the same few directories. You cd here, you cd there, and then you cd back here. Instead of cd'ing so much, Linux has 3 powerful commands that can help you: pushd, popd, and dirs.

How do these commands work? Linux maintains the concept of a stack of directories, at all times. pushd, popd, and dirs controls this stack.

  • To view the stack, type dirs
  • pushd dirname changes directory to dirname, and pushes it onto the head of the stack
  • popd changes directory to the directory at the head of the stack, and pops it off

Here's an example of how I use pushd, popd, and dirs in Ruby on Rails:

$ pwd
~/myapp
$ pushd ./config
~/myapp/config ~/myapp
$ pwd
~/myapp/config
$ vim ./database.yml
$ popd
~/myapp
$ pwd
~/myapp

In this example, I started out in my main Ruby on Rails directory. I cd'd to ./config using pushd. Then I edited the database.yml file. Finally, I cd'd back to my main Ruby on Rails directory using popd.

Finally, although I did not demonstrate it in this example, you can pushd and popd many levels deep -- the stack is not limited to 1 directory.