What is Bash in Linux?

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You’ve probably heard of Bash, but what is it? What can he do? Find out here.

What is bash

If you’ve been using Linux for a long time, you’ve probably seen the word Bash thrown around in forums and articles. Sometimes it seems like a synonym for terminal, but Bash and terminal emulator are definitely two different applications. So, what exactly is Bash? In this short article, we’ll cover what Bash is, what it does, and how you can start using it.

The name Bash stands for Bourne-Again-SHell, a pun on the name Stephen Bourne, the creator of one of Bash’s predecessors. The first beta was released in 1989, and as of this writing, has seen its latest update in December 2020: version 5.1.

Bash is one of the most popular shell languages, known for its combination of powerful capabilities and easy-to-use commands. That’s why it’s so productive across Linux distributions.

Bash operates not only on Linux, however; it’s also available on macOS and BSD, and you can use it on Windows via the Windows Subsystem for Linux.

But to really define Bash, we have to understand what a shell is.

A shell is an application that receives input from the user and executes an action in response, usually communicating with the kernel to make it happen. That way, it’s like the “shell” around the kernel.

While shells start other applications via commands, they also often have interactive features of their own.

For example, when you open a Linux terminal and press the up arrow key to retrieve the last issued command, it is a function of the Bash application. The cd command to change directories is another very common Bash command.

cd command in linux

In addition to being an interactive application, Bash is also a scripting language. Your Linux OS actually uses a lot of Bash scripts in the startup process to start various processes.

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How Can I Use Bash?

You use Bash whenever you use the terminal on almost any Linux system.

You can confirm that with this command, which returns the name of the shell used:

echo $0

You should only get the bash word returned. If yes, you can see which version of Bash you are using with this command:

bash –version

Your screen should look like this:

Menu display in linux bash

Issuing a single command in the terminal, however, is only the beginning of using Bash.

Like the scripts your OS uses, you can learn to write Bash scripts that automate processes on your Linux PC that you often do manually. A skilled Bash screenwriter might have a script that automates hundreds of tasks a day!

So how do you learn Bash?

By writing scripts, either alone or guided, as in a Bash course.

For you gamers out there, you can also learn by playing Bash games. One such example is Bashcrawl, a text-based dungeon crawler that forces you to learn and remember Bash commands to progress in-game.

Improve Your Linux Game

We’ve learned what Bash is, its history, and how you can learn to apply it for yourself.

Learning Bash is only one part, however, of getting the most out of your Linux operating system. There’s a lot more you can learn to become a Linux power user.