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Part 1. Introduction

The shell is a command interpreter. More than just the insulating layer between the operating system kernel and the user, it's also a fairly powerful programming language. A shell program, called a script, is an easy-to-use tool for building applications by "gluing" together system calls, tools, utilities, and compiled binaries. Virtually the entire repertoire of UNIX commands, utilities, and tools is available for invocation by a shell script. If that were not enough, internal shell commands, such as testing and loop constructs, give additional power and flexibility to scripts. Shell scripts lend themselves exceptionally well to administrative system tasks and other routine repetitive jobs not requiring the bells and whistles of a full-blown tightly structured programming language.