8 classic Linux commands and their modern alternatives

When you learn Linux, you can start with the basic commands that have been around since the days of Unix. However, developers created the standard commands a long time ago, and currently these commands are simplified for easier use.

As an advanced or experienced user, it’s good to learn and master powerful alternatives to these commands. These alternatives to classic commands save time and provide detailed results.


Here are some of the best alternatives to the standard Linux commands.

Linux commands and their alternatives

Let’s start by summarizing each command with its alternative:

Classic commands description Modern alternatives
Man View the user manual of any command in a simple format tldr
Cat Create files, view file contents, concatenate files, and more bat
Find Finds a specific file or directory from the terminal fd
grep Locate a file with the specific character pattern and display these lines ack
you Displays the disk usage information ncdu
above Displays information about processes in real time with the possibility of interaction htop
vim Popular text editor with additional features like cursor style etc. neovim
df Provides information about the free space on the hard disk fragrance

The table above provides essential details on some of the most commonly used Linux commands. Next, you will learn examples of classic commands and their alternatives.

1st man vs. tldr

The man command gives a detailed description of other Linux commands. However, if you don’t want to read long details, you can use the tldr (too long; not read) command. For example, let’s get information about the tar command using both man and tldr:

man tar
tldr tar

As you can see the results are completely different and tldr provides a more compact result.

2. Cat vs Bat

The cat command creates files, displays file contents, and concatenates them. On the other hand, the bat command provides an advanced replacement for the cat command, including features like syntax highlighting, Git integration, automatic paging, and more.

The name “bat” is based on the mammal “bat” because it looks like a cat with wings. Let’s look at the contents of a shell script using the cat and bat commands:

cat <filename>
batcat <filename>

The difference between the two commands is that cat displays the script in text format while the bat command displays the result with syntax highlighting.

3. find vs. fd

The find command is used to find a specific file or directory from the terminal. However, the fd command provides a more convenient way to search for any file.

For example, the find command requires the -Surname Option to search for a file when a user doesn’t know its location, but the fd command doesn’t require anything.

find -name <filename>
fdfind <filename>

The fd command displays the file location directly, so it is an advanced alternative to the find command.

4. grep vs. ack

The grep command searches a file for a specific character pattern and displays all lines that contain that pattern. As an alternative, the ack command provides a quick search option. The ack command also offers excellent flexibility to exclude a specific output from the search result.

Let’s take an example to show how grep and ack work:

grep <character> <filename>
ack <character> 

With the grep command, you must provide character details with the filename. However, the ack command only needs character details and searches the entire system accordingly.

5. you vs ncdu

du stands for “Disk Usage” and shows an estimated file space usage in the system. As an alternative, the ncdu command stands for “Ncurses Disk Usage” and offers a slightly more useful way of checking disk usage.


The example above shows that the ncdu command provides a more convenient interface and more detailed information than the du command.

6. top vs htop

The command top or “Table of Processes” provides real-time information about the currently running processes. This command also displays memory usage, resource usage, and CPU usage.

Meanwhile, you can use the htop command to monitor resource usage in a more interactive and user-friendly way. Therefore, the htop command is an extended version of the top command.


The difference is clear as the htop command has much more interactive output than the top command.

7. Vim vs. Neovim

Vim is a screen-based text editor that offers easy accessibility to create and modify text efficiently. Neovim is just an enhanced version of Vim that solves the problems that users face while using Vim.

It is a fact that Neovim and Vim are almost the same, but Neovim’s ease of use and extensibility make it an advanced version of Vim. Neovim’s support for all Vim plugins and asynchronous functions provides a comprehensive performance boost.


As you can see, there is no difference in the interface of both editors, but the internal functions of each are different.

8. df vs. duf

The df or “disk-free” command gives information about the file system with the total available disk space. For an advanced option, the duf or “disk usage and free space” command provides the same information as df and du, but with a modern, stylized output.


The duf command has a completely different output than the df command, providing information about disk usage and available space in a tabular format.

Advanced Linux command alternatives make things easier

Linux has changed a lot over the years and today it has become one of the best operating systems in the world. This change also brings modern alternatives to classic commands. These alternatives provide users with advanced features and options to perform tasks efficiently.

These new alternatives can save you time and effort while getting your work done on Linux. Learning new commands is a surefire way to get better at the command line and the Linux operating system in general. As a beginner, your main goal should be to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of operating system architecture and learn some tips and tricks to get more done in less time.

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