Complementing cd with autojump

Big Jump

Article from Issue 166/2014

Autojump is a mature and widely available command-line tool for navigating your directory structure. We show you how it works.

The Linux directory structure was developed when hard drives were small, and all you needed for navigation was a file manager or a handful of commands like cd and ls. Today, however, multiterabyte hard drives make the list of directories longer and deeper and therefore more difficult to navigate. On the desktop, these changes have prompted navigation alternatives like Nepomuk [1] and Zeitgeist [2]. At the command line, they have resulted in several different solutions, the most popular of which is autojump [3].

Autojump apparently takes its name from a means of pre-programming moves in some of the games in The Legend of Zelda series. Like its gaming namesake, autojump is a means of jumping straight to a directory without laboriously following its full path. Autojump maintains a plain-text database of the directories you visit and how often you visit each one and, on the basis of this information, jumps to the closest match according to what you type.

As the project homepage notes, "autojump isn't meant to be a drop-in replacement for cd, but rather a complement. Cd is fine when staying in the same area of the filesystem; autojump is there to help when you need to jump far away from your current location." Autojump is especially useful with the root account, which tends to make longer jumps in the directory structure than most accounts.


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