What Is Bash in Shell Scripting?


Angela Bailey

Shell scripting is an essential skill for any system administrator or developer. One of the most popular and versatile shells used in shell scripting is Bash. In this article, we will explore what Bash is and why it is widely used.

What is Bash?

Bash, short for “Bourne Again SHell,” is a command language interpreter that provides a command-line interface (CLI) for interacting with the Unix-like operating systems. It is the default shell on most Linux distributions and macOS.

Bash is an enhanced version of the original Unix shell, called the Bourne shell (sh), which was developed in 1979 by Stephen Bourne. The primary goal of Bash was to provide backward compatibility with sh while adding new features and improvements.

Why use Bash?

Bash offers several advantages over other shells:

  • Scripting: Bash allows you to write scripts to automate tasks and perform complex operations. It supports variables, loops, conditionals, functions, and more.
  • Portability: Since Bash is available on most Unix-like systems, scripts written in Bash are generally portable across different platforms without modification.
  • Interactivity: With its command-line interface, Bash provides a powerful and flexible environment for interactive use. It offers features like command completion, history manipulation, and customizable prompts.

Basic Syntax

To execute commands in Bash, simply type them into the terminal or include them in a script file with a .sh extension. Here’s an example:

$ echo "Hello World"

The above command uses the echo command to print “Hello World” to the terminal.


In Bash, you can assign values to variables and use them in your scripts. Variable names are case-sensitive and can consist of letters, numbers, and underscores. Here’s an example:

$ message="Hello World"
$ echo $message

The variable message is assigned the value “Hello World,” and then it is printed using the echo command.

Control Structures

Bash provides various control structures for executing commands conditionally or repeatedly. Some commonly used control structures include:

  • If-else statements: Used for conditional execution of commands based on a condition.
  • For loops: Used for executing a block of commands repeatedly for a specified number of times.
  • While loops: Used for executing a block of commands repeatedly as long as a condition is true.

Built-in Commands

Bash includes many built-in commands that provide additional functionality beyond what is available in external programs. Some commonly used built-in commands are:

  • cd: Used to change the current working directory.
  • echo: Used to print messages or values of variables.
  • export: Used to set environment variables.
  • read: Used to read input from the user.
  • alias: Used to create shortcuts for frequently used commands.


Bash is a powerful and flexible shell that provides a command-line interface for interacting with Unix-like systems. It offers scripting capabilities, portability, and interactivity, making it a popular choice among system administrators and developers. Understanding Bash and its features can greatly enhance your productivity when working with the command line.

Now that you have a basic understanding of what Bash is, take some time to explore its features further and experiment with writing your own Bash scripts. Happy scripting!

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