Ubuntu – Difference between $ and # in Linux environment

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What is the difference between $ and # signs in Linux environment? As I started working on Linux and I found that both are different. I mean they do have different set of privileges…?

[root@localhost ~]# and [tom@localhost ~]$.

Best Answer

In short, if the screen shows a dollar sign ($) or hash (#) on the left of the blinking cursor, you are in a command-line environment.

$, #, % symbols indicate the user account type you are logged in to.

  • Dollar sign ($) means you are a normal user.
  • hash (#) means you are the system administrator (root).
  • In the C shell, the prompt ends with a percentage sign (%).

There are differences on prompts in different Unix or GNU/Linux distributions because of their default settings. For example, the prompt of Debian/Ubuntu is guest@linux:~$, the one of Fedora/CentOS/RedHat is [guest@linux ~]$ and the one of SuSE Linux/OpenSUSE is guest@linux:~>. In general, the prompt usually show the login user name, machine hostname, and current working directory and ended with a dollar ($), percentage (%), or hash (#) sign.

guest@linux:~$ 
  • guest - username: the user account you are logged in to.
  • linux - machine hostname: the machine you are operating.
  • ~ - current working directory: the directory you are in. Tilde (~) means home directory, i.e. the default directory when first logging in.

Reference: wiki.debian.org.hk/w/Basic_Command_Line