How to install and use the Exa command on Ubuntu 20.04

Hello, friends. In this post, you will learn how to install the Exa command on Ubuntu 20.04. This command adds functionality to another command known throughout Linux as ls So, let’s get started.

The Exa command

According to the official Exa website

exa is an improved file lister with more features and better defaults. It uses colors to distinguish file types and metadata. It knows about symlinks, extended attributes, and Git. And it’s small, fast, and just one single binary.

So this is a command that guarantees ease of use with improved behavior compared to ls. That is why more and more users have it installed on their systems because it offers considerable advantages. In short, exa attempts to be a more featureful, more user-friendly version of ls.

From the technical level, it is an application made with rust and is open source. In addition, the installation is reduced to a single binary, so it does not get in the way of the system.

Another thing that I really like about using exa is that it has a lot of different options so we don’t have to miss anything.

So, let’s install it, and then we’ll explain how to use it.

Install Exa on Ubuntu 20.04

Since this is an application created with Rust, we can install it using cargo.

cargo install exa

Although it is also possible to do it by downloading directly the binary and saving it in a directory of the system that is in our PATH.

This last option is the one we are going to use because it is easy and gives us the latest version available.

First, download it using this command

1.- Download the exa command binary
1.- Download the exa command binary

Remember that the version of Exa will change over time, so first visit the project’s Github page to find out what it is.

Then unzip it and at once add it to the /usr/local folder

sudo unzip -q bin/exa -d /usr/local

And to check that everything went well, then you can show the installed version

exa --version

Sample output

exa - list files on the command line
v0.10.1 [+git]
2.- Command version
2.- Command version

So, it’s installed now let’s use it.

Using the Exa command

The use of Exa is quite similar to that of ls so we can use it by invoking the command just by calling the command


This will display the contents of the folder where the prompt is located. Also, you can specify one for example

exa /etc
3.- Using the exa command in Ubuntu 20.04
3.- Using the exa command in Ubuntu 20.04

Exa has many different options. For example, we can add the -l option to get a long output format.

exa -l /etc
4.- More options with the exa command
4.- More options with the exa command

Also, with the -h option, you can add a header.

exa -lh /etc

Or show the owner groups of those files with the -g option.

exa -lg /etc

With the -i option you can add the inode number of the files. The above options can be unified as follows

exa -lhgi /etc/terminfo/
5.- Exa command
5.- Exa command

That’s how easy it is.


In this post, you learned how to use the exa command to get a solid alternative to the ls command we all know.

We invite you to read the Github profile of the tool to have access to all the available options as well as the help provided by the developers.

I am Angelo. A systems engineer passionate about Linux and all open-source software. Although here I'm just another member of the family.


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