What Are Shell Scripting Commands?


Scott Campbell

Shell scripting commands are a powerful tool for automating tasks in a Unix-based operating system. Whether you are a system administrator, a developer, or just an enthusiast, understanding shell scripting commands can greatly enhance your productivity and efficiency.

What is Shell Scripting?

Before diving into the commands themselves, let’s first understand what shell scripting is. In simple terms, shell scripting is the process of writing a series of commands in a text file (known as a script) that can be executed by the shell. The shell acts as an intermediary between the user and the operating system, allowing them to interact with the system through command-line interfaces.

Types of Shells

There are various shells available on Unix-based systems, each with its own set of features and syntax. Some popular shells include:

  • Bash: The Bourne Again SHell is one of the most commonly used shells. It is the default shell on many Unix-like systems.
  • Zsh: Z Shell is an extended version of Bash with additional features and customization options.
  • Sh: The Bourne Shell was one of the earliest Unix shells and served as the foundation for future shells.

Basic Shell Scripting Commands

Now that we have an understanding of what shell scripting is and the different types of shells available, let’s explore some basic shell scripting commands:


The echo command is used to display messages on the terminal. It takes arguments (the message to be displayed) and prints them to standard output.

For example:

$ echo "Hello World!" Hello World! 


Variables are used to store values that can be referenced and manipulated throughout the script. They can be defined using the = operator.

For example:

$ name="John"
$ echo "Hello, $name!" Hello, John! 


Conditionals allow you to make decisions in your scripts based on certain conditions. The if statement is commonly used for this purpose.

For example:

$ age=25
$ if [ "$age" -gt 18 ]; then
  echo "You are an adult." fi


Loops are used to repeatedly execute a block of code until a certain condition is met. The for and while loops are commonly used in shell scripting. For example:

$ for i in 1 2 3; do
  echo "Number: $i"

$ counter=0
$ while [ $counter -lt 5 ]; do
  echo "Count: $counter"
  counter=$((counter + 1))

In Conclusion

Shell scripting commands offer a wide range of capabilities for automating tasks and managing Unix-based systems effectively. By mastering these commands, you can save time and effort, making your workflow more efficient.

This was just a brief introduction to shell scripting commands. There is much more to explore, including advanced commands, piping, redirection, and more. As you become more comfortable with shell scripting, you’ll discover endless possibilities for automation and customization.

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