The ls program lists information about files (of any type, including directories). Options and file arguments can be intermixed arbitrarily, as usual.
For non-option command-line arguments that are directories, by default ls lists the contents of directories, not recursively, and omitting files with names beginning with ‘.’. For other non-option arguments, by default ls lists just the file name. If no non-option argument is specified, ls operates on the current directory, acting as if it had been invoked with a single argument of ‘.’.
By default, the output is sorted alphabetically, according to the locale settings in effect.1 If standard output is a terminal, the output is in columns (sorted vertically) and control characters are output as question marks; otherwise, the output is listed one per line and control characters are output as-is.
Because ls is such a fundamental program, it has accumulated many options over the years. They are described in the subsections below; within each section, options are listed alphabetically (ignoring case). The division of options into the subsections is not absolute, since some options affect more than one aspect of ls's operation.
0 success 1 minor problems (e.g., failure to access a file or directory not specified as a command line argument. This happens when listing a directory in which entries are actively being removed or renamed.) 2 serious trouble (e.g., memory exhausted, invalid option, failure to access a file or directory specified as a command line argument or a directory loop)
Also see Common options.
 If you use a non-POSIX locale (e.g., by setting LC_ALL to ‘en_US’), then ls may produce output that is sorted differently than you're accustomed to. In that case, set the LC_ALL environment variable to ‘C’.