The basics

Unix Shell Mastery - Part: 1

What is the unix shell and why should you care?


What is the Unix shell?

Unix is an operating system. If you use a Mac or Linux your device is running on Unix. Windows does not use Unix it instead uses a variant called Xenix as such some of the commands in this series will work for Windows.

The way we interface with Unix is via the shell. The shell looks like something out of the matrix and can be daunting at first but is really simple once you get used to it. On Mac you can access the shell via the Terminal application. There are alternative applications, I personally prefer iTerm2 and some of my colleagues use hyper.

Why use the Unix shell?

The Unix shell has over 200 basic commands (also known as tools) which can do everything from viewing files in a folder so sending emails. The Unix shell is a fantastic way to learn basic programming concepts and is as relevant today as it was in the 1980’s. When I started out as a web developer I didn’t use the shell much, occasionally to access the admin of servers or view databases. As I progressed it became much more prevalent in my workflow. I started to use Git, and Node and some of the platforms I used created CLIs (command line interfaces). I started resenting having to use my mouse which compelled me to learn more and more ways of doing stuff in the shell.

So I embarked on a journey to Unix Shell Mastery.

About this series

When you see $ that is a new command line. When entering the commands you do not need to enter the $.

Some of the commands at the beginning may not seem that useful when they are used on there own but I’m implore you to read on and learn how they work in conjunction with each other.