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· Looking Through Files
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Linux Tutorial - Shells and Utilities
  Accessing Disks ---- The Shell  


Shells and Utilities

Most UNIX users are familiar with "the shell"; it is where you input commands and get output on your screen. Often, the only contact users have with the shell is logging in and immediately starting some application. Some administrators, however, have modified the system to the point where users never even see the shell, or in extreme cases, have eliminated the shell completely for the users.

Because the Linux GUI has become so easy to use, it is possible that you can go for quite a long time without having to input commands at a shell prompt. If your only interaction with the operating system is logging into the GUI and starting applications, most of this entire site can only serve to satisfy your curiosity. Obviously, if all you ever do is start a graphical application, then understanding about shell is not all that important. However, if you are like most Linux users, understanding the basic workings of the shell will do wonders to improve your ability to use the system to its fullest extent.

Up to this point, we have referred to the shell as an abstract entity. In fact, in most texts, it is usually referred to as simply "the shell", although there are many different shells that you can use, and there is always a program that must be started before you can interact with "the shell". Each has its own characteristics (or even quirks), but all behave in the same general fashion. Because the basic concepts are the same, I will avoid talking about specific shells until later.

In this chapter, we are going to cover the basic aspects of the shell. We'll talk about how to issue commands and how the system responds. Along with that, we'll cover how commands can be made to interact with each other to provide you with the ability to make your own commands. We'll also talk about the different kinds of shells, what each has to offer, and some details of how particular shells behave.

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