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A shell is a piece of software that provides an interface for users. Nowadays the term shell is mostly used for CommandLineInterface shells.

Graphical shell is a rarely used term for a DesktopEnvironment.

Interactive shell

An interactive shell is used by a user in a virtual console or a TerminalEmulator.

Debian uses Bash as the default interactive shell.

The default interactive shell for newly created users can be set in /etc/adduser.conf.

To change the default interactive shell for the current user:

Non-interactive Shell

A non-interactive shell is used to execute system scripts or scripts that use #!/bin/sh shebang.

Debian uses Dash as the default non-interactive shell.

It is not intended to be used interactively by a user, for example, in a terminal emulator, but rather focuses on speed and compatibility with standards. Therefore, many interactive features are not present in Dash, making it faster and more memory efficient than Bash.

Before DebianSqueeze, Bash was used as the default non-interactive shell.

Other shells

Debian provides many different shells. A few notable shells include:

See also

CategoryCommandLineInterface | CategorySoftware | CategorySystemAdministration