2-min read

Shell Shock

Almost everyone who switches on a computer today expects to see a tiny button at the bottom left of the screen that says ‘Start’. Apologies to Mac users and Linux aficionados of the Gnome and KDE camps, but the truth remains that majority of computer users are still Windows users. Let’s get back to the basics and get shell shocked!

A shell is an interface for the user to communicate with the machine. Wikipedia says the name shell originates from shells being an outer layer of interface between the user and the innards of the operating system (the kernel). Let’s explore some CLI OS shells. Linux offers many choices for shells.

Discounting the fact that there are as many if not more flavors of Linux, here’s a short list:

In Linux, bash is default. Other OSs use csh or tcsh as the default, so use your keyboard for more than just chatting and filling online forms and explore. Shells need not be limited to OS interface as I have just explained but also for programming languages. There are shells for Java, Perl, PHP or even Ruby. Also I would be limiting the definition of a shell if I said it’s all about the command line.

GUI shells abound for Windows as well as the X Window System. Even Windows Recovery Console is a shell, albeit a CLI. Want to have fun with shells ASAP? Fire up your browser and go to to test-drive Google Shell or goosh, an open source browser based command line shell that is actually a front end for Google search. Imagine typing out commands, keywords and search strings to search. Shell shocked?

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