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Chapter 6. The Linux Shells: An Overview

The shell is a program that acts as a buffer between you and the operating system. In its role as a command interpreter, it should (for the most part) act invisibly. It also can be used for simple programming.

This section introduces three shells commonly used on Linux systems -- the Bourne-Again shell (bash), the C shell (csh), and csh's enhanced version, tcsh -- and summarizes the major differences between them. Details on them are provided in Chapter 7, "bash: The Bourne-Again Shell", and Chapter 8, "csh and tcsh". (Some Linux distributions also offer the Korn shell, ksh, another popular version of the Bourne shell with some of the same features as bash.)

The following topics are presented in this chapter:

  • Purpose of the shell

  • Shell flavors

  • Common features

  • Differing features

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