Is Python a Shell Scripting Language?


Larry Thompson

Python is a versatile programming language that is widely used for various applications, including web development, data analysis, artificial intelligence, and more. One question that often arises is whether Python can be considered a shell scripting language. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of Python to determine if it qualifies as a shell scripting language.

What is a Shell Scripting Language?

Before we dive into the specifics of Python, let’s first understand what a shell scripting language is. A shell script is a computer program designed to be run by the Unix shell or another compatible shell interpreter. It allows users to execute commands and automate tasks by writing scripts.

A shell scripting language typically provides features such as variables, loops, conditionals, functions, and file manipulation capabilities. These features make it easier to write scripts that interact with the operating system and perform various tasks efficiently.

Python as a Shell Scripting Language

Python may not be traditionally categorized as a shell scripting language like Bash or Perl. However, it offers several features that make it suitable for writing scripts to automate tasks on Unix-like systems.

Bash-like Syntax

Python’s syntax shares similarities with popular shell scripting languages like Bash. It supports variables, conditionals (if-else statements), loops (for and while loops), and functions – all essential elements of any scripting language.


#!/usr/bin/env python3

name = "John"
age = 25

if age < 18:
    print("Sorry,", name + ". You are underage.") 

    print("Welcome,", name + ". You are eligible.") 

Sys Module

The sys module in Python provides access to system-specific parameters and functions, allowing you to interact with the operating system. This module is particularly useful for shell scripting tasks such as reading command-line arguments, accessing environment variables, and exiting scripts with specific exit codes.

import sys

if len(sys.argv) > 1:
filename = sys.argv[1]
print("Reading file:", filename)
print("No file specified.")

Subprocess Module

The subprocess module in Python enables you to spawn new processes, connect to their input/output/error pipes, and obtain their return codes. This module allows you to execute system commands from within your Python script, opening up possibilities for shell scripting-like behavior.

import subprocess

output = subprocess.check_output(“ls -l”, shell=True)


While Python may not be strictly classified as a shell scripting language, it offers a wide range of features and modules that allow users to write powerful scripts for automating tasks on Unix-like systems. Its Bash-like syntax, sys module, and subprocess module make it a versatile choice for writing scripts that interact with the operating system.

In conclusion, while Python’s primary use may not be shell scripting, it can certainly fulfill many of the requirements typically associated with a shell scripting language. Its flexibility and extensive library ecosystem make it an excellent choice for automating tasks on Unix-like systems.

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