Is Shell Programming and Shell Scripting Same?


Scott Campbell

Is Shell Programming and Shell Scripting Same?

When it comes to working with the command line interface in Unix-like operating systems, the terms “shell programming” and “shell scripting” are often used interchangeably. However, there are subtle differences between the two concepts that are worth exploring.

Shell Programming

In simple terms, shell programming refers to the process of writing and executing commands directly in a shell environment. This involves interacting with the command line interpreter, commonly known as a shell, to perform various tasks. The shell acts as an interface between the user and the operating system, allowing users to execute commands, launch programs, and manipulate files.

Shell programming allows users to:

  • Execute commands interactively: Users can enter commands one by one in real-time and get immediate results.
  • Create scripts: Users can write a series of commands in a file known as a shell script and execute them all at once.
  • Create aliases: Users can define custom shortcuts for frequently used commands.

Shell Scripting

On the other hand, shell scripting involves writing scripts using a specific scripting language like Bash or PowerShell that can be executed by a shell. A script is essentially a collection of commands written in a file that can be executed sequentially. Shell scripting allows users to automate repetitive tasks or complex processes by creating reusable scripts.

Distinguishing features of shell scripting include:

  • Variables: Users can define variables to store values for use within the script.
  • Control structures: Scripts support control structures like loops and conditionals to control the flow of execution.
  • Functions: Users can define functions to encapsulate specific blocks of code for reuse.


In summary, shell programming is the act of directly interacting with a shell to execute commands and perform various tasks. Shell scripting, on the other hand, involves writing scripts using a scripting language that can be executed by a shell to automate tasks or create reusable solutions. While they share similarities, understanding the distinction between shell programming and shell scripting is essential for effectively working with command line interfaces.

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