1.4.Shells, the shell prompt, and your home directory

Once you open a terminal (or connect to a server via secure shell [SSH]),[2] you type in commands to interact with a program known as a shell.[11] Although GNU Bash (the Bourne Again Shell) is the most popular shell for Linux, some Linux servers and the computers in some Linux computer labs use tcsh as the default shell.[12] If you're interested in trying the Bash shell, see SectionA.3.2, “Changing your shell temporarily to Bash”.

Once the shell starts up, you’ll see the shell prompt, which indicates that the shell is ready for you to type a command.

Here is the prompt that I see when I log in to the CEC's grid server: [jg18@grid ~]$

Thus, the format being used is: [username@host_machine current_directory]$

In addition, your current directory will initially be your home directory,[13] as is indicated by the tilde (~) in the prompt above.[14]

[11] The shell is covered in depth in Chapter3, Basic shell commands and related utilities.

[12] For learning more about tcsh, Wikipedia's article might be informative. You can also learn more by typing man tcsh, using the manual (man) pages that you'll learn about in Section2.1, “Manual ("man") pages”.

[13] Like the C:\Documents and Settings\Your Username directory in Windows or the /Users/Your_Username directory in Mac OS X, your home directory in Linux stores your personal files and settings. If you're a student, your home directory is probably the top-level directory for the long-term disk space (that is, not your "roaming profile") that your school allocates for your use.

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