Is Bash Programming or Scripting?


Larry Thompson

Is Bash Programming or Scripting?

Bash is a command language interpreter for Unix-like operating systems. It is widely used as a scripting language for automating tasks and creating small programs.

But is bash programming or scripting? Let’s dive into the details.

Bash: A Scripting Language

Bash, short for “Bourne Again SHell,” is primarily known as a scripting language. It allows users to write scripts or series of commands to be executed sequentially. These scripts are often used to automate repetitive tasks, perform system administration tasks, and create small utilities.

When writing bash scripts, you can use various programming constructs like variables, conditionals, loops, functions, and file handling operations. This makes bash a powerful scripting language that can handle complex tasks.

Variables in Bash

In bash scripting, you can declare and manipulate variables. Variables are placeholders for storing data that can be used later in the script. To declare a variable in bash, you simply assign a value to it using the following syntax:


You can then access the value of the variable by prefixing it with a dollar sign ($). For example:

echo $fruit

The above code snippet will output “apple” since we assigned the value “apple” to the variable “fruit.”

Conditionals and Loops in Bash

Bash provides several constructs for performing conditional checks and looping over a set of instructions.

  • If-else statements: You can use if-else statements to execute different blocks of code based on certain conditions.
  • For loops: For loops allow you to iterate over a list of items and perform a set of instructions for each item.
  • While loops: While loops execute a block of code repeatedly as long as a specified condition is true.

These constructs make bash scripting more powerful and flexible, enabling you to write complex scripts that can handle various scenarios.

Bash: A Command Language

Aside from being a scripting language, bash also serves as a command language interpreter. This means that you can directly interact with the shell by typing commands into the terminal.

Bash provides an extensive set of built-in commands and utilities that can be executed in real-time. These commands allow users to perform file operations, manage processes, manipulate text, and interact with the system.

File Operations

You can use bash commands like ls, cp, mv, and rm to perform file operations such as listing files in a directory, copying files, moving files, and deleting files respectively.

Pipe and Redirection Operators

Bash supports pipe (|) and redirection operators (<, >, >>) which allow you to redirect the output of one command as input to another command or redirect the output to a file.

The pipe operator (|) allows you to chain multiple commands together, feeding the output of one command as input to the next. For example:

ls -l | grep ".txt"

The above command lists all files in the current directory and filters only those with “.txt” in their names using the grep command.


So, is bash programming or scripting? The answer is both.

Bash can be used as a scripting language to write scripts and automate tasks. It also serves as a command language interpreter, allowing users to interact with the shell and execute commands in real-time.

With its powerful scripting capabilities, bash enables users to create complex scripts that handle various tasks efficiently. Its command language features provide quick access to a wide range of built-in commands and utilities.

Whether you are writing a bash script or executing commands directly in the shell, understanding the intricacies of bash will undoubtedly boost your productivity in Unix-like systems.

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