Best Free and Open Source Navigation Tools

12 Best Free and Open Source Command Line Navigation Tools

The desktop environment with its bundle of programs sharing a common graphical user interface (GUI) remains a firm favorite with users. Not surprising really given that a good desktop environment makes computing fun and simple. The graphical desktop environment has become so ingrained in almost everyone’s computer activities that it might seem the command line will wither away. Yet, there is still an important role to play for the humble command-line interface (CLI).

Command-Line InterfaceThe CLI provides a way of interacting with a computer program where the user (or client) issues commands to the program in the form of successive lines of text (command lines). This way, the user gains full control over the operating system. There are many advantages in using a CLI application. They are generally frugal in using system resources, they are fast in operation, offer great scripting opportunities, and can be extremely powerful and flexible. Typing commands into a terminal or the console may appear mundane, but with the right tools, the command line can be incredibly powerful.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts is a very famous quote from Aristotle, a Greek philosopher and scientist. This quote is particularly pertinent to Linux. In my view, one of Linux’s biggest strengths is its synergy. The usefulness of Linux doesn’t derive only from the huge raft of open source (command line) utilities. Instead, it’s the synergy generated by using them together, sometimes in conjunction with larger applications.

The cd command is a command-line OS shell command used to change the current working directory. A directory is a logical section of a file system used to hold files. Directories may also contain other directories. The cd command can be used to change into a subdirectory, move back into the parent directory, move all the way back to the root directory or move to any given directory.

The purpose of this article is to identify some tiny but useful tools that complement the cd command. They help users to navigate faster around the filesystem, and increase productivity when using the shell. We feature 9 tools each with their own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, together with links to relevant resources.

We make the following recommendations. Only free and open source software is eligible for inclusion.

Ratings chart for best free and open source navigation tools

Learn more about each tool. Click the links in the table below to read our reviews, details of features and screenshots, together with other resources.

Shell tools
fzfCommand-line fuzzy finder for your shell
brootReviewed under our Excellent Utilities series
McFlyAlso reviewed under our Excellent Utilities series
zMaintains a jump-list of the directories you actually use
autojumpOffers a fast way to navigate your filesystem
z.luaHelps you navigate faster by learning your habits
HSTRBash and zsh shell history suggest box
fasdCommand-line productivity booster. It seeks inspiration from autojump, z and v
fzySimple, fast fuzzy finder for the terminal
walkSimple and minimalistic terminal navigator
vz for vim
cdwecd with env vars

This article has been revamped in line with our recent announcement.

Have we missed any open source alternatives to cd? Please let us know!
Other alternatives to cd?x

All the CLI tools in this series.

Alternatives to CLI tools
age // awk // bc // cal // cat // cd // chmod // cksum // cloc // cmp // compress // cp // cron // curl // cut // date // dd // df // diff // dig // du // find // ftp // grep // gzip // hexdump // history // jq // kill // less // locate // ls // lsof // make // man // more // mv / ping // ps // psql // rename // rm // sed // split // ssh // strings // sudo // sysctl // talk // tar // telnet // time // top // touch // traceroute // tree // uname // uniq // uptime // vi // watch // Wget // who // whois // xargs

Best Free and Open Source SoftwareRead our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.

There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
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10 months ago

There’s cdwe, a cd wrapper.

5 months ago
Reply to  Pierre

the heck is cdwe??