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Linux.com: Using the /proc Filesystem

Jan 13, 2001, 18:33 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Tom Dominico)

"If you're like me, you enjoy poking around in your directory tree, hunting for interesting things. Perhaps you've noticed the /proc file-system, but haven't had much of a clue as to what it is used for. It contains a number of odd entries such as "meminfo", "kmsg", "interrupts", etc. If you've ever tried to do a "cat" on these files, you were probably greeted with a set of odd words and numbers that may not have made much sense at the time. However, for those who know how to use it, the /proc file system can be a valuable source of information about your Linux system."

"The /proc file system is only a "virtual" file system. What this means is that none of the "files" that it contains are stored on your hard disk. Rather, it is a way to easily access dynamic information about your system at any time, and only exists in memory. Working with a Linux system sometimes requires a more in-depth knowledge of your system than other operating systems, such as, "what PCI devices do I currently have in my system? What interrupts are currently in use?" As you become more of a "power user", you'll find some of this information to be valuable as you perform certain tasks. Besides, isn't it just plain cool to have all this information at your fingertips? Imagine how impressed your friends will be as you rattle off the interrupts that are currently in use on your system! You'll be the life of the party for sure. (Well, at a LAN party, perhaps)."

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