What Is Shell Scripting With Examples?


Heather Bennett

Shell scripting refers to the process of writing a series of commands in a file that can be executed by the shell. The shell is a command-line interface that allows users to interact with the operating system.

Shell scripting is commonly used for automating tasks, managing files and directories, and performing system administration tasks. In this article, we will explore the basics of shell scripting and provide examples to help you get started.

What is a Shell?
A shell is a program in an operating system that interprets user commands. It acts as an intermediary between the user and the operating system, allowing users to execute commands, run programs, and perform various operations. The shell also provides features such as input/output redirection, piping, variable substitution, and control structures like loops and conditionals.

Shell Scripting Basics
To write a shell script, you need to create a plain text file with a specific file extension (.sh). The first line of the script should start with “#!

“, followed by the path to the shell interpreter you want to use. For example:


This line tells the system which interpreter should be used to execute the script. In this example, we are using Bash as our shell interpreter.

Once you have set up your script file with the correct interpreter declaration, you can start writing your commands. Each command should be written on a separate line.

For example, let’s create a simple script that prints “Hello, World!” when executed:

echo "Hello, World!"

In this example, we use the echo command to output the text “Hello, World!” to the console.

To make your script executable, you need to change its permissions using the chmod command:

chmod +x script.sh

Now, you can run your script by typing its name in the terminal:


The above example demonstrates a basic shell script. However, shell scripting offers much more functionality. Let’s explore a few examples to showcase some commonly used features.

Example 1: Variables and User Input

Shell scripts allow you to define variables and capture user input. Consider the following script that asks for the user’s name and then greets them:


echo "What is your name?"
read name
echo "Hello, $name!"

In this example, we use the read command to capture the user’s input and store it in the name variable. The value of the variable is then displayed using echo.

Example 2: Loops and Conditionals

Shell scripts support loops and conditionals, allowing you to perform repetitive tasks or make decisions based on certain conditions. Let’s say we want to list all files in a directory that have a “.txt” extension:


for file in $directory/*.txt; do
echo $file

In this example, we use a for loop to iterate over each file in the specified directory that matches the pattern “*.txt”. The $file variable stores each file name, which is then printed using echo.

Example 3: Command Line Arguments

Shell scripts can accept command line arguments. This allows users to pass input parameters when executing the script. Consider the following example that multiplies two numbers passed as arguments:


result=$((num1 * num2))

echo “The result is: $result”

In this example, we use the $1 and $2 variables to capture the first and second command line arguments, respectively. We then perform the multiplication operation and display the result using echo.

These examples provide a glimpse into the world of shell scripting. Shell scripts are incredibly powerful and can help automate complex tasks, manage system configurations, and more. As you gain experience, you can explore advanced topics such as functions, file handling, error handling, and regular expressions.

Keep in mind that shell scripting syntax may vary depending on the shell interpreter you are using. While Bash is one of the most popular shells, there are other shells available, such as Zsh and Ksh.

  • Summary:

    • A shell script is a file containing a series of commands that can be executed by the shell.
    • The shebang (#!/bin/bash) declares which interpreter should be used to execute the script.
    • Shell scripts support variables, user input, loops, conditionals, and command line arguments.
    • Shell scripting is useful for automating tasks and performing system administration tasks.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced user, learning shell scripting can greatly enhance your productivity. With practice and experimentation, you can create powerful scripts that simplify complex tasks and streamline your workflow. So start exploring the world of shell scripting today!

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