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Useful Commands

To increase security and reduce risk, Stanford is sunsetting its WebAFS service that is used to upload and download files to AFS.

To optimize AFS and make sure it is serving its intended functions, UIT has also taken these actions:

  • UIT no longer automatically provisions new faculty and staff members with AFS user volumes. New faculty or staff who need a personal user volume must submit a Help request.
    • This change does not impact existing AFS directories or the process for adding permissions for new individuals to those existing directories. Your existing space and everything in it remains intact.
    • This change does not impact the auto-provisioning of new AFS user volumes for students and postdocs.

​Class volumes do not expire and are kept indefinitely. This is an official academic policy, and any change to this policy must be considered by the Faculty Senate.

Introductory AFS commands

Most of the AFS commands you'll ever want to know or use can be found in the Unix Command Summary. This document contains all the basics, plus intermediate and advanced commands that everyone uses as short cuts.

Intermediate AFS commands

You can customize many of the basic commands you already know by combining them with "flags" or "options." (For example, to list the contents of a directory you'd type "ls", but to see at a glance which items were files and which sub-directories, you'd type "ls -F": this marks sub-directories with a slash so it's more obvious.) Most of the useful options are included in the Unix Command Summary, but you can also hunt for new ones online.

Learn more about commands online
You can often get more information about an AFS command by adding a "help argument" or "flag" to the command while at the command prompt. For example, say you wanted more information about the "fs" command.

To get a list of fs subcommands, you'd type:

fs help

To get a somewhat cryptic syntax list for a subcommand, you'd type:

fs [subcommand] -help

To get a look at the rather worthless online manual concerning "fs", you'd type:

man fs

Press the space bar to page down through the text. Press "q" to get out of the manual pages. You might notice that the information seems rather poorly presented. This is usually the case with manual pages, but the "man" command can sometimes unearth extremely useful stuff or help you figure things out.

A few useful command options

  • ls -a     This lists all the invisible "dot" files in a directory. It's very useful when setting permissions in web directories that require the use of .htaccess files.
  • ls -F     This was discussed in the intro paragraph to this intermediate commands section, but note that on most Macs and Windows computers the "Tab" key will do the very same thing. One keystroke instead of four.
  • ls -latr     This lists the contents of a directory in reverse order (most recently changed at the bottom of the list) and includes all sorts of additional information, like who created the file originally.

Advanced AFS commands

Refers you to a list of advanced commands, such as fs (file) commands, pts group commands, vos server commands and other useful information about AFS paths and file layout.

Last modified April 12, 2023