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Syntax, and PATH environmenal vairables

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I'm currently studying a lot about computer science and programming etc, and I was wondering and I'm a little stuck with something.

I was wondering if anybody could tell me a few functions syntax allows in the command 'dir' ???

I'm also reading a lot about PATH environmental vairables, and it's somewhat sinking in a bit, but I'm having a little bit of a problem with the meaning of it. Some of the language is a little over the top in a lot of the searches, and I know there is a simpler way to explain it that would make sense to almost anybody who doesn't know a lot about the science of computers.

1 - I guess I don't really know what is the PATH environmental variable

2 - Why I need to know this to run programs

3 - What it has to do with absolute, relative, and default positions

Any help would be gretaly appreciated

Thanks A.C

Edited by Adatoode, 05 February 2010 - 01:46 AM.

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Hello, I'm a CS major, I believe I may be able to assist you here.( My information is always open to criticism/correction, if any error exists please inform me, I am by no means an expert, but simply just another student.)

1) PATH is an environmental variable that permits you to use commands without having to be working from the directory in which the command is located. The best example I can offer, is if you open up the command prompt on your computer(I'm assuming that you are a windows user)and type
echo %PATH%
, and this will show you what makes up the PATH environment. An example would be:

C:\Users\name>echo %PATH%
C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Windows Live;C:\Windows\system32;
C:\Program Files\QuickTime\QTSystem\;C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Sha
red\Windows Live

2) Think of it as a shortcut. If you wanted to run programs without PATH consider that any time you wanted to use a program in one of the directories above, you would need to move to the program's location or include the absolute path.

3) If by this you're referring to pathways then an absolute pathway shows the full pathway regardless of your current directory. Relative pathways show the pathway relative to your current directory. I'm assuming 'default' would be an option perhaps? I'm unsure.
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