The Linux/Unix shell refers to a special program that allows you to interact with it by entering certain commands from the keyboard; the shell will execute the commands and display its output on the monitor. The environment of interaction is text-based (unlike the GUI-based interaction we have been using in the previous chapters) and since it is command-oriented this type of interface is termed Command Line interface or CLI. Before the advent of GUI-based computing environments, the CLI was the only way that one can interact and access a computer system.
Up until now, there was never a need to type commands into a shell; and with the modernisation and creation of a lot of newer GUI-based tools, the shell is becoming increasingly un-required to perform many tasks. But that said, the shell is a very powerful place, and a lot is achieved through it. A lot of the front-end GUI methods of doing things have similar ways and means to get done with using the shell. Professional Linux and UNIX users find the shell very powerful, and an introduction to at least the basic shell usage is useful.
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This tutorial is based on the "User Guide to Using the Linux Desktop", originally published by United Nations Development Programmes, Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme (UNDP-APDIP). The guide is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/). This material may be reproduced, republished and incorporated into further works provided acknowledgment is given to UNDP-APDIP.
Please note that the screen shots in this tutorial are of Fedora Linux (an open source Linux sponsored by Red Hat). Your screen may look somewhat different.