The Interactive Shell
The shell is a powerful programming environment, capable of automating nearly anything you can imagine on your Linux system. The shell is also your interactive interface to your system. When you first start a shell, it does some automated housekeeping to get ready for your use, and then presents a command prompt. The command prompt tells you that the shell is ready to accept commands from its standard input device, which is usually the keyboard. Shells can run standalone, as on a physical terminal, or within a window in a GUI environment. Whichever the case, their use is the same.