What Is Difference Between Perl and Shell Scripting?


Scott Campbell

Perl and shell scripting are both widely used scripting languages in the world of programming. While they may share some similarities, there are key differences between the two that set them apart. In this article, we will explore these differences in detail.

The Basics:

Perl is a high-level, general-purpose programming language that was created by Larry Wall in 1987. It was designed to make it easier to write powerful and efficient scripts. Shell scripting, on the other hand, refers to writing scripts using a shell interpreter, such as Bash or Csh.

Language Purpose:

Perl is a versatile language that can be used for various purposes like web development, system administration, network programming, and more. It has a rich set of built-in functions and modules that make it easy to accomplish complex tasks.

Shell scripting, on the other hand, is primarily used for automating tasks within an operating system. It allows you to combine various shell commands into a single script to perform repetitive tasks efficiently.


The syntax of Perl and shell scripting differs significantly. Perl uses its own syntax with a strong emphasis on regular expressions. It has a more flexible syntax compared to shell scripting which makes it easier to write complex scripts.

In contrast, shell scripting follows the syntax of the specific shell interpreter being used. For example, if you are using Bash as your shell interpreter, you will need to adhere to Bash’s syntax rules when writing shell scripts.


In Perl, variables are declared using the $ symbol followed by the variable name. Perl also allows you to use different types of variables like scalars ($), arrays (@), and hashes (%).

In shell scripting, variables are declared without any special symbols. They can store strings or integers, but there is no distinction between the two.


Perl scripts are executed by the Perl interpreter. You can run a Perl script by typing perl scriptname.pl in the terminal.

Shell scripts, on the other hand, are executed by the respective shell interpreter. For example, if you are using Bash as your shell interpreter, you can run a shell script by typing bash scriptname.sh.


Perl scripts are highly portable and can run on various operating systems without modification. This makes Perl a popular choice for cross-platform development.

In contrast, shell scripts may not be as portable since they rely on specific shell interpreters. If you write a shell script using Bash syntax, it may not work on systems that use a different shell interpreter.


In summary, Perl and shell scripting are two different scripting languages with their own unique features and purposes. Perl is a general-purpose language suitable for various tasks, while shell scripting is primarily used for automating tasks within an operating system.

Understanding these differences will help you choose the right scripting language based on your requirements and goals. Whether you need to process large amounts of data or automate system administration tasks, both Perl and shell scripting have their strengths and can be valuable tools in your programming arsenal.

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