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Home » Terminal vs Shell vs Bash: What’s the Difference?

Terminal vs Shell vs Bash: What’s the Difference?

If you are a Linux user or a system administrator, you may have come across the terms Terminal, Shell, and Bash. These three terms are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. In this blog, I will clarify the differences between Terminal, Shell, and Bash and how they work together.

In Short

  • Terminal: It is a text-based interface to the operating system. It provides a way to communicate with the operating system using text commands.
  • Shell: It is a command-line interpreter that processes the commands you enter.
  • Bash: It is a popular shell used on Linux and macOS systems. Some other shells are zsh and fish.


A terminal is a window in which you can type and run commands. It’s like a command prompt in Windows. Terminal is also known as a console, command-line interface, or shell interface. You can access the terminal on most systems by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T.

You can use the terminal to perform various tasks, such as navigating the file system, running programs, and managing files and directories.


A shell is a program that provides a text-based interface to the operating system. It reads the commands you enter, interprets them, and then performs the requested action. The shell is responsible for interpreting the commands you enter and executing them.

There are many different shells available, such as the Bourne shell, the Korn shell, and the C shell. Each shell provides a different set of features and commands.


Bash is one of the most commonly used shells. It is the default shell on Linux and macOS systems. Bash stands for Bourne-Again SHell, and it was created as a free software replacement for the original Bourne shell (sh).

Bash provides a rich set of features, including command history, job control, and command line editing. It also supports shell scripting, which allows you to automate tasks using shell commands.

Practical Use-Cases

Now that we have a basic understanding of Terminal, Shell, and Bash, let’s look at some practical use-cases for these tools.

5 Tips for Terminal, Shell, and Bash

  1. Customize your terminal: You can customize the look and feel of your terminal by changing the background color, font size, and more.
  2. Use keyboard shortcuts: Keyboard shortcuts can save you time and effort. For example, you can use the Tab key to auto-complete commands, and Ctrl + R to search the command history.
  3. Learn basic shell commands: Familiarize yourself with basic shell commands, such as ls for listing files, cd for changing directories, and rm for removing files. This will make it easier for you to navigate and manage the file system.
  4. Write shell scripts: Shell scripts can automate repetitive tasks and save you time. Start by writing simple scripts, and then gradually increase the complexity.
  5. Take advantage of command line tools: Many useful tools, such as grep, sed, and awk, are available on the command line. Learn to use these tools to increase your productivity.

In Summary

In summary, Terminal is the window where you interact with the shell. The shell is the program that interprets the commands you enter in the terminal, and Bash is the most commonly used shell.

For further reading, you may want to explore topics such as shell scripting and changing your default shell from Bash to Zsh or Fish.

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