Linux Install Command Tutorial

Find out everything you need to know about the Linux install command, and much more in this detailed blog.

Updated: 05 Mar, 23 by Antoniy Yushkevych 4 Min

List of content you will read in this article:

The install command in Linux is used to copy files to a given location and assign attributes to them. It transfers data to a designated location. As the name implies, it is not used to install applications. Depending on the distribution method, we could use apt-get, apt, yum, and other tools to download and install the software. It's quite close to the order 'cp'. It also gives us leverage over the properties of the destination data. 

It's mostly used to copy programs from makefiles to their final destination. It would not copy files to itself. So in this guide, you will get brief information on the Linux "install command" and its use in all Linux distros.


The install command incorporates components from various commands, including cp, chown, chmod, mkdir, and strip. It enables one to combine the functions of all of these commands into a single operation.


install [OPTION]... [-T] SOURCE DEST


install [OPTION]... -t DIRECTORY SOURCE...

install [OPTION]... -d DIRECTORY...

The first three types are used to copy the source to a new directory or several sources to an existing directory and set permission modes and owner/group. On the other hand, the fourth form is used to construct all of the directory's components.


The install command provides the following option:

  • --backup[=CONTROL]: For each current destination file, this alternative generates a backup file.
  • -b: It's similar to the "--backup" alternative, except it doesn't need a claim.
  • -C, --compare: It's used to compare each pair of source and destination files, and it doesn't always change the destination.
  • -d, --directory: Both arguments would be treated as directory names if the "-d or -directory" option is defined.
  • -D: It's used to build all of the target directory's components before copying the source to the destination.
  • -g, --group=GROUP: It's used to determine the size of a group's holdings.
  • -m, --mode=MODE:Instead of rwxr-xr-x, it is used to set the authorization mode (as in chmod).
  • -o, --owner=OWNER: It's used to specify who owns what. Just the superuser has access to it.
  • -p, --preserve-timestamps: The access time of the source file is applied to the specified file.
  • -s, --strip: The strip symbol tables are generated with it.
  • --strip-program=PROGRAM: It is used to remove the program's binaries.
  • -S, --suffix=SUFFIX: It's used to replace the backup suffix that's usually used.
  • -t, --target-directory=DIRECTORY: It copies all source arguments into the designated directory.
  • -T, --no-target-directory: It's used to handle the destination file as if it were a regular file.
  • -v, --verbose: It is used to print the directory names.
  • --preserve-context: It aims to keep the SELinux security background secure.
  • -Z: It's used to set the SELinux protection background of the destination file, as well as the default form of each newly generated directory.
  • --help: The support manual is shown using the '-help' option.
  • --version: It's used to display the details about the edition.


  1. Using the install button, we can tailor each folder and file to our specific requirements. It's seen like this:

install -D /src/folder/*.txt /dest/folder  

The '-D' choice in the above command copies all text files from the source folder to the destination folder.

  1. Execute the following command if you need to build a new destination folder:

install -d /destination/newfolder  

The command above will generate a new folder named 'newfolder' in the designated directory. 

  1. To copy the files' xyz.txt' and 'abc.txt' to the 'Pictures' directory, for example, run the command:

sudo install xyz.txt abc.txt Pictures  

The above command copies the specified files to the 'Pictures' folder.


Many times people get confused with the install function and think it is used to install the software. Instead, it is widely used as a copy function. Different option commands can be used to execute different commands. We hope you got the complete details through our article and will use this command in your system.

Antoniy Yushkevych

Antoniy Yushkevych

Master of word when it comes to technology, internet and privacy. I'm also your usual guy that always aims for the best result and takes a skateboard to work. If you need me, you will find me at the office's Counter-Strike championships on Fridays or at
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Ms. Ariane McGlynn

2024, Jun, 24

Fantastic tutorial on the Linux install command! This article clears up a lot of common confusion, especially about its difference from application installation tools like apt-get or yum. I appreciate the detailed explanations of various options and syntax. This guide will definitely help users better understand and utilize the install command in their workflows. Thanks for sharing this comprehensive resource!