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Linux® For Dummies®, 8th Edition by Richard Blum, Dee-Ann LeBlanc

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Playing the Shell Game

You need a way to tell the computer what you want it to do. In Linux, one of the ways to communicate with the computer is through something called the shell. A shell isn’t a graphical thing; it’s the sum total of the commands and syntax you have available to you to do your work.

The shell environment is rather dull and boring by graphical desktop standards. When you start the shell, all you see is a short prompt, such as a $, followed by a blinking cursor awaiting your keyboard entry. (Later in this section, I show you a couple of methods for accessing the shell.)

The default shell used in Linux is the bash shell. This work environment is based on the original UNIX shell, which is called the Bourne shell and is also referred to as sh. The term bash stands for the Bourne again shell. The bash shell comes with most Linux distributions. You can start a bash session by selecting ApplicationsSystem ToolsTerminal. If you use your shell prompt quite a bit like I do, it’s handy to use what you discovered in Chapter 5 to add the terminal window to your icons along the desktop’s top panel.

Often, your shell prompt includes helpful information. For example, if you’re logged in as dee on the machine catherine in Fedora 7, your prompt looks like this:

 [dee@catherine ~]$ ...

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