Exa - A Modern Replacement for ls Command

exa tool, a replacement for ls command

Exa is a nifty command-line tool that has received lots accolades for being a contemporary replacement for the good old ls command. And rightfully so given its ability to use different colors in displaying various file types, file permissions and ownership, blocks and inode information to mention just a few.

In this article, we look at Exa - a modern replacement for ls command-line tool.

Prerequisites for installing Exa

Before you proceed in getting Exa on your system, ensure that you have the following requirements:

  1. Rust Programming language ( Version 1.17.0)
  2. libgit2
  3. cmake

How to install Exa in various Linux systems

There are two ways of installing Exa on Linux. The easier way is to download the exa binary file and placing it in the /usr/local/bin path. However, ensure you install rust as follows:

First, download and install the official compiler for the Rust programming language as shown:

$ curl https://sh.rustup.rs -sSf | sh

install rust programming language

Thereafter, you will be presented with a list of options as shown. Select the first option which is going to add the bin directory for cargo to your $PATH.

press 1 to select default selection when installing rust

The installer will continue downloading all the necessary components and updates and upon successful installation, you will get the output as shown.

Rust programming language installed

Next up, download the Exa zip file from the Official site as shown. At the time of writing this article, the latest version was Version 0.9.0.

$ wget -c https://github.com/ogham/exa/releases/download/v0.9.0/exa-linux-x86_64-0.9.0.zip

Once downloaded, unzip the file to retrieve exa-linux-x86_64  the binary file which we are going to place it in the /usr/local/bin directory.

$ unzip exa-linux-x86_64-0.9.0.zip

Finally, move the binary file to the bin directory so that it can be accessed on the CLI.

$ sudo mv exa-linux-x86_64  /usr/local/bin

The other way of installing exa is to install from source. But first, you need to install the dependencies as shown:

Ubuntu / Debian

$ sudo apt install libgit2-24 libgit2-dev cmake


$ sudo yum install libgit2 cmake


$ sudo dnf install libgit2 cmake

Next, run the commands below to install exa on your system:

$ curl https://sh.rustup.rs -sSf | sh
$ git clone https://github.com/ogham/exa.git
$ cd exa
$ sudo make install

How to use Exa - A replacement for ls command

Using Exa is quite simple. Just like ls command, you can run it in its basic form i.e

$ exa

exa - A replacement for ls command

To get the most out of the command, append the -l flag as shown. This will display colorized output as shown.

$ exa -l

exa a modern replacement for ls command

The command below displays additional information such as inodes, file/directory size, Blocks, User and Group to mention a few.

$ exa -bdhHlis

exa display extra options


For more information on the available options, visit the Exa GitHub page. In this article, we have shone the spotlight on Exa - A modern replacement for ls command. As you have seen, it's quite a delightful tool to use when listing files. The display is spectacular and intuitive.

Jamie Arthur 2:30 am


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