How ls *.c works

It is easy to think of computer language as a science, or magic that only the most talented can understand. Many leave it at that and let the professionals take care of that kind of thing for them. But in reality, it is only a language just like English, Spanish, or Mandarin. computers were created by humans after all, we just need to adjust our categorization to get things done.

We go to computers to perform tasks for us, so the basic word to describe the input we give it is a “command”. There are many to use, just as there are many verbs in English, but a good start is the “ls” command. This useful one can be interpreted as meaning “list”, and will tell the computer to list all the files in your computer. Depending where you write the command, it can list all of your files in one of your desktop folders, or any other folder (aka a directory, if you want to sound like a veteran technician) in your computer.

The way to really take control of ls is to add more information for what you’re looking for. To do this, the language speakers use flags. This is their version of adjectives, which describe their command. Same way we add “ly” to a word and change its use, *.c changes ls’s focus to only mean files with “.c” in it’s name. The “*” is called a wildcard in computer language because it brings in the human factor to only output what you told it to output. This is very useful when looking for a certain type of folder, and exactly why you might see an extremely tired student type this command into their black screen with a long list of white font text.