How to launch and use a shell terminal in Linux
People new to Linux tend to react to any reference of the Linux shell terminal with fright. But there is nothing scary about our beloved shell terminal, or what we most commonly call the command-line interface (CLI) or simple the command-line. It is a very powerful place to interact with Linux. Every operating system has its own “command-line,” including Windows.
Unlike a graphical user interface where the operating system is directed to perform varied tasks via point-and-click operations, the Linux shell terminal lets you do the same by typing commands made up of a line of text. That is how we got the “command-line.” The shell just interprets the commands that you type.
The main purpose of this article is to show users new to Linux how to access a shell terminal, and how to open and edit files from its interface. Keep in mind that you do not need to know how to use a shell terminal to use any Linux desktop distribution, but there are occasions when you will need to edit certain configuration files that do not have a graphical management interface.
So I will take you step-by-step on how to become familiar with the command line. Just very basic stuff, nothing fancy. Keep in mind that there are many shells in Linux and other UNIX-like operating systems, but you do not need to know all of them. It is sufficient to know that the default shell in Linux is called Bash
, short for Bourne-Again SHell
. The name has nothing to do with a religious group or sect, just derived from the name of a very important geek in our history.
You will always find an entry for the shell terminal in the menu of any distribution you are using, and depending on the distribution, it could listed as a Terminal
. If you are using the latest edition of Ubuntu
, follow these steps to launch it:
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