WhatIs: CLI/Shell/Terminal

CLI

A CLI, or Command Line Interface, is the interface that accepts commands (mainly input from the keyboard) and gives them to the operating system to execute. In the old days, it was the only user interface on Unix-like systems such as Linux. Nowadays many Unix-like systems have graphical user interfaces (GUIs). The operating system Windows is famous for its desktop GUI.


Shell

shell is a type of programs that provide the CLI in the Unix-like systems. That is to say, the shell accepts commands and gives them to the operating system to execute. There are the original shell "sh", the commonly seen shell "bash", and others such as ksh, tcsh, zsh, etc.

In modern GNU/Linux, "sh" may be another name i.e. symbolic link of "bash" or other shell programs.


Useful Shell Shortcuts

  • CTRL + L: Clear (flush) the screen. The command "clear" can also do this.
  • CTRL + U: Clear (flush) the current line i.e. Delete all characters of the current line.
  • Up and Down arrow keys: Recall commands from command history. The command "history" lists all commands from the command history.
  • Tab: Auto-complete names.
  • CTRL + C: Cancel (kill) the currently running command.
  • CTRL + Z: Stop the currently running command.

Terminal

A terminal, or terminal emulator, or console, is a program that in a GUI, opens a window and let the user interact with the shell.


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