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Linux® Desk Reference, Second Edition by Scott Hawkins

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Quick Overview of Shell Operation

When you log in or otherwise invoke the shell, it checks system variables and the /etc/passwd file to determine who you are and where your login session is supposed to begin. It then searches the system for default configuration files and looks for configuration files in your home directory. Typically, these system files set up a few aliases, do some security checks, configure your prompt, and perform half a dozen other user- and site-specific tasks limited only by your imagination. It then prints out a prompt and waits for you to enter a command.

When you do enter a command, the shell first parses it. It identifies any redirection of standard input, output, and error, any background detachments, looks up any ...

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