What Is Difference Between Bash and Shell Scripting?


Larry Thompson

What Is the Difference Between Bash and Shell Scripting?

Shell scripting is an essential skill for any Linux user or system administrator. It allows you to automate tasks, improve efficiency, and make your life easier.

When it comes to shell scripting, two terms are commonly used: Bash and Shell. While they are often used interchangeably, there are some key differences between the two.


Bash stands for “Bourne Again SHell” and is the most popular shell scripting language on Linux systems. It is an enhanced version of the original Bourne shell (sh) and offers many additional features and improvements.

  • Compatibility: Bash is compatible with sh, which means that most sh scripts can run in Bash without any modifications. However, Bash has its own set of features that make it more powerful and versatile.
  • Interactive Shell: Bash provides an interactive command-line interface (CLI) where you can type commands directly and execute them immediately.
  • Command History: One of the significant advantages of Bash is its command history feature.

    It allows you to recall previously executed commands using the arrow keys or by searching through the history using Ctrl+R.

  • Tab Completion: Another handy feature of Bash is tab completion. By pressing the Tab key, Bash will automatically complete partially typed commands or suggest possible options.
  • Built-in Functions: Bash includes many built-in functions for string manipulation, arithmetic operations, file handling, and more. These functions make writing complex scripts much easier.

Shell Scripting

Shell scripting refers to writing scripts that are interpreted by a shell. A shell is a command-line interpreter that allows you to execute commands, run programs, and automate tasks by writing scripts.

  • Shell Agnostic: Shell scripting is not limited to Bash; it can be done using various shells like sh, csh, ksh, zsh, and more. Each shell has its own syntax and features.
  • Portability: Shell scripts are generally portable across different Unix-like operating systems.

    However, if you use advanced features specific to a particular shell, the script may not work correctly on other systems.

  • Automation: The primary purpose of shell scripting is automation. You can write scripts to perform repetitive tasks, automate system administration tasks, or create complex workflows.
  • Command Execution: Shell scripts allow you to execute multiple commands sequentially or conditionally based on certain criteria. This makes it easy to create complex workflows without manual intervention.

Differences Between Bash and Shell Scripting

While Bash is a specific shell with additional features built on top of sh, shell scripting refers to the concept of writing scripts for any shell. Here are some key differences between the two:

  • Syntax: Bash has its own syntax with additional features like arrays and associative arrays. Shell scripting syntax depends on the specific shell being used.
  • Features: Bash provides interactive features like command history and tab completion, while these may not be available in other shells.
  • Compatibility: Bash is compatible with sh but includes additional functionalities. Some advanced features in Bash may not work in other shells.
  • Portability: Shell scripts are generally portable across different shells, but using shell-specific features may limit portability.

In conclusion, Bash is a specific shell with enhanced features and compatibility with sh. On the other hand, shell scripting is a broader concept that refers to writing scripts for any shell.

Understanding the differences between Bash and shell scripting will help you choose the right approach for your scripting needs.

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