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  Oracle Tips by Burleson

What is a shell?

A shell provides a command interpreter environment for giving instructions to the Linux kernel via English-like commands. There are a number of different shell environments available in Linux. In order to determine which shell environments are available on your version of Linux, issue the following command:

Determining available shells

$ cat /etc/shells












We can see that we have several shells available on this server such as sh (Bourne shell), bash (Bourne Again shell), ksh (Korn shell), and csh (C-shell) among others. In Linux the default shell is normally the bash shell.

To determine what your default shell is currently set to, run the following command:

Determining your default shell

$ echo $SHELL


As predicted, the bash shell is our current default.

As we mentioned, the shell is a command language interpreter that executes commands read from the standard input device (keyboard) or from a plain text file.

A shell can be compared to the Microsoft Windows command prompt, which also executes commands issued from the keyboard or from text (.bat) files. However, the shell environment is much more robust and feature-rich than its Windows counterpart.

The above book excerpt is from:

Easy Linux Commands
Working Examples of Linux Command Syntax

ISBN: 0-9759135-0-6   

Terry Clark 

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Note: This Oracle documentation was created as a support and Oracle training reference for use by our DBA performance tuning consulting professionals.  Feel free to ask questions on our Oracle forum.

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