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When I run cd / && ls I see some directories in which I know the purpose of, and then others I don't.

Here are the directories I do not know the functions of: /etc /opt /private

What do all of these do? Thanks in advance.

Edit: I also see some empty folders, like /cores. Are they safe to remove?

marked as duplicate by Mark, klanomath, bmike osx Jan 30 '16 at 22:04

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  • Let's leave the one main question to cover the explanations. If you want to edit this to ask about deleting one specific directory - that might be worth reopening. The general OS X answer, is don't delete anything outside the home folder - but showing what you have in a folder and asking what would break if you delete it is always welcome. Especially if you report back once you "experiment" since anyone can back up their Mac and then try things out "for science". – bmike Jan 30 '16 at 22:06

This link explains what you want very briefly, with this Apple doc doing a better job, and this older post really explaing.

/etc: Machine local system configuration, holds administrative, configuration, and other system files; Contains host-specific configuration files.

/opt: Has a very similar role to /usr/local and they seem interchangeable. However, from my experience working with other Linux/UNIX sysadmins, there seems to be a preference for /usr/local in BSD-based UNIX OSs.

/private: The Unix core: other directories are symbolic links to folders within here

/cores: When applications crash, they can save a lot of information about the state when they crashed here.

So you can delete the content of /cores, but you shouldn't remove the folder itself.

  • @klanomath That's what I said, sorry if I worded it funny. – JMY1000 Jan 31 '16 at 9:11

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