shell script definition

Contributor(s): Christine Allsup

A shell script is a text file that contains a sequence of commands for a UNIX-based operating system. It's called a shell script because it combines into a "script" in a single file a sequence of commands that would otherwise have to be presented to the system from a keyboard one at a time. The shell is the operating system's command interpreter and the set of commands you use to communicate with the system. A shell script is usually created for command sequences for which a user has a repeated need. You initiate the sequence of commands in the shell script by simply entering the name of the shell script on a command line.

In the DOS operating system, a shell script is called a batch file. In IBM's mainframe VM operating systems, it's called an EXEC.

This was first published in April 2005

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