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Chapter 10. Shell Prompt Basics

Why Use a Shell Prompt?

Graphical environments for Linux have come a long way in the past few years. You can be as productive as you'd like in the X Window System, without ever having to open a shell prompt.

However, it is worthwhile to learn how to work from a shell prompt, because using commands via the shell prompt can be quite fast. In the time it might take you to open the file manager in GNOME or KDE, locate a directory, and then create, delete, or modify files, you could have finished your work with several commands from a shell prompt.

In this section, we'll show you how to navigate, manipulate files, perform some basic administration tasks, and other shell prompt basics.

There's one component of your new operating system you can't do without: the shell. A shell prompt looks like an MS-DOS screen. Users type commands at a shell prompt, the shell interprets these commands, and then the shell tells the OS what to do. Many new users work primarily in a GUI rather than a shell while learning, but there are some tasks that simply cannot be performed in a GUI. Experienced users can write shell scripts to expand their capabilities even more. We've made numerous references to the shell, as in "shell prompt," or "bash." Now, it's time to learn a little more about this indispensable tool.

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