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What is the Shell in Linux?

by Kiran Kumar
Learn Linux - Shell

Many of our readers have requested me to write articles on learning Linux. Thanks for all the feedback pouring in. It has helped me a lot in understanding what most users are looking for when at FOSSLinux.com. I’m excited to introduce first article in this mega series – Linux Shell. You might have heard about this term used in Linux quite often. So, what is Shell?

The Shell is simply a program that takes the commands you give and then executes those commands to give an output. It something like a command line interpreter. Shell in Linux distributions is available for use from application called ‘Terminal’.

Let’s take a look at the following terminal in Manjaro Linux which is a distribution based on Arch Linux.

The content inside the [ ] is the username, the server name, and if that user is using the system as a normal user ($) or a superuser (#). The superuser (also called root) has administrative privileges. By default, you will always be logged as normal user. You should use ‘su’ command to login as superuser, but be careful before you attempt it. In that mode you should be absolutely sure of what you are doing since you are able to delete or overwrite any file on the system, including critical system files! At this point, just know about it, I will cover it in detail later. So, the blinking cursor is waiting to take your commands.

Terminal in Manjaro Linux GNOME

Terminal in Manjaro Linux GNOME

Now that you know what Shell is, let’s end this tutorial with a simple command to get started.

Type the following command to get your computer details.

uname -a

Uname command prints the name, version and other details about your computer including the Linux distribution running on it.

Uname command in Terminal

Uname command in Terminal

Note that although Shell is a command line interface, the mouse still works in the Terminal. You can scroll the contents of the terminal, you can copy text with the mouse by selecting and right-clicking on the text. You can also select the text, then move the pointer to next line command and center click to copy the selected text.

That’s it about the powerful tool Shell that’s going to change the way you interact with your computer.

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