Overview

OK now you have a Linux computer, and you are ready to make it do your bidding! We're going to cover how to send commands to your Linux machine using the command line - you know, a line where you send commands!

In order to start typing those commands (list files! print this one out! open the web browser!) you will use a shell - a shell is a little like the Finder on Macs, or the desktop Explorer on windows, but is not graphical - it uses only TEXT.

A shell is a program with a command-line interface which you talk to with a terminal. Terminals are software or hardware that let you send text back and forth to a computer. Shells offer a very specific kind of command line, but what we mean in general by that term is an interface where a user types commands and the computer responds.

The shell provides the command line dialect used to navigate the files on a machine, run programs, and generally stitch things together to solve problems.

You may be a little puzzled about the way "command line", "terminal" and "shell" work together - don't worry! Although technically they are different parts of a whole, they are often used interchangeably, as in "open up a terminal", "get to the command line", or "start up a shell" - these are all basically the same thing.

My shell looks like this:

In this guide, we'll talk a little about where the command line comes from and why it's still so important, explain how to get a shell on the Raspberry Pi (and other systems), and begin to outline how it can be useful in your own work.

This guide was first published on Jan 06, 2015. It was last updated on Oct 15, 2018. This page (Overview) was last updated on Nov 23, 2015.