The Linux Shell – in a nutshell

Many computer users that are used to point-and-click computer graphic interfaces might find it not comforting and hence be turned down when the idea of using a shell or the Linux command line interface (CLI) – something that is somewhat similar to, but way better than, the command line utility (cmd) found in Microsoft Windows operating systems.

The shell is an integral part of the Linux OS this is largely because of the many capabilities of the OS – being a server OS that is mostly used in multi user or enterprise platforms. For instance there are situations where the shell might be the only way users can interact with Linux (such as remotely accessing a server via dial-up or over a network). Unlike the windows cmd utility, the Linux shell is more sophisticated in various unique ways; it has a syntax that is a programming language (shell script).

Having the basic understanding of the capabilities of the shell command line can help you perform different tasks including;

  • searching files or directories with programs using pattern-matching, or expressions;

  • Input/output redirection – getting data and sending data to a file or command;

  • Piping – feeding or filtering a program’s output to another command

  • Job control – commands to launch the command line as a background process suspend a running process, selectively retrieve or kill running or kill or suspend programs, and perform other types of process control.

  • Command line editing

  • Built-in help and many more…

The Linux shell is an interactive and simple user interface or command prompt that provides the various services a user wants. These services are made possible because of the many wonderful feature of the shell highlighted above.

The shell enables the Linux user to interact with the computer freely. It protects the user from having to know many intricate hardware details and manipulations. The shell interprets the commands entered by the user using the keyword and is mostly used to launch other commands or programs using the shell’s interpreter language known as shell scripts.

The default shell for most Linux distributions is the GNU bash or Bourne Again Shell (bash). Other common shells available for use in Linux are tcsh, csh, ksh, and zsh. You choose a different simply by typing its name at the command line. The root (administrator) of a Linux system can also assign a user to another during its (the user’s) creation.

I would be talking more about how wonderful the Linux CLI is in posts that would follow, so sit back and relax.

Happy Linux’NG!




Chief Editor/Founder at FossNaija
A Linux enthusiast with a focus on enriching the Nigeria Linux experience and keeping a keen eye on Ubuntu and other Foss related developments.
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