What is the Shell?
If you don't know what the shell is, then this is the place to start!
When we talk about “The Shell”, we're normally referring to the simple, text-based interface which is used to control a computer or a program.
Here's what the shell looks like on Windows:
And here's what it looks like on a Mac:
And here's what it looks like on Fedora, a popular Linux distribution:
When we are talking about the shell in this book, we're talking about the simple program which can be used to operate the computer using this text based interface.
Why would you want to do this? There are a few reasons!
Firstly, using the shell can help you learn more about the internals of how your computer can work. This can be really helpful if you are technology professional or work with computers.
Secondly, there are some scenarios where you have to use a shell. Not every program or system can be operated with a Graphical User Interface, which is the visual point-and-click interface you are probably using now. Some lower-level programs do not have such interfaces, and many computers do not either.
Finally, there are some scenarios where it can be more efficient to use the shell. Operations which might be time consuming or repetitive to perform using the user interface might be much faster to perform in a shell. You can also write shell scripts to automate these kinds of operations.
In the next section you'll learn how to startup the shell on your computer. Once this is done you are ready to continue with the book.