What is the difference between Terminal, Console, Shell, and Command Line?


I have read on a magazine once: (therefore must be CONCRETE! ;) )

Terminals are the sessions you get (Ctrl-Alt-F1, each Terminal tab in Konsole, etc)... they are found as tty devices and communicate with the applications.

You have a single console on your computer - it represents the equivelent to the monitor/keyboard/mouse communication.

The console communicates with the terminals.

Similar to X-Windows, where you have an X-Server communicating with your devices, and an X-Client communicating with the applications.

Though I think that people tend to interchange them anyway, and there doesnt seem to be a solid agreement to the difference.

I'm not claiming this to be correct, as I said I read it in a magazine, and haven't ever seen an agreed definition for the...

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Sony Agrawal wrote:I am a newbie to linux platform. I have RedHat.
What to know the difference between terminal and shell-Konsole windows??

Not actually a whole lot. There are a number of GUI apps that provide command-line windows, but unlike Microsoft's "CMD" versus "COMMAND" windows, the shell used isn't part of the command-window app, it's the shell you have selected being presented in a GUI container.

The grandaddy of them all is XTerm. It's somewhat of a pain to use because their "scrollbar" doesn't work like how we expect scrollbars to act these days. In Red Hat, the "terminal" app is actually the "gnome-terminal" program, and "Konsole" is the KDE control program. IIRC, one neat features of Konsole is the ability to split the window into multiple command-line panes.

I'm not sure if all of the above have man/info pages, but I think a little web searching will turn up documentation for all of...

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Difference between Console, Shell, and Command Prompt

location: linuxquestions.com - date: October 22, 2005
Hello all, I am in a great confusion regarding difference between Console, Shell and Command Prompt. It will be great for me to get the similarities and differences between these three above mentioned terms. thanx, Anupam

Difference between a Shell terminal window and the KDE Linux Console terminal window?

location: linuxquestions.com - date: March 25, 2007
I'm running Fedora 6, using the KDE desktop. Can anyone explain to me what the differences between the Shell terminal window and the Linux Console are? I'm a newbie in Linux and KDE, so any detailed information would be greatly appreciated! Peter V. Any suggestions for other terminal emulators would be helpful too!

Difference between normal shell and login shell

location: linuxquestions.com - date: February 23, 2002
What is the difference between running a shell (e.g. bash)...

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Aug 24, 2010

Green on black = general shell
red on black = shelling in as root to a server
gold on black = media, irc

what colours do you use?


Aug 17, 2010

Does anyone know how to make the file colours appear different for each file type in the shell like happens in ubuntu?

Aug 23, 2010

I searched the menu-bar of gedit, i searched the web, i searched the help of gedit.(try a search on "change background to black for gedit" and similar and you know what i have gone through).If i use the embedded terminal in gedit (the only reason i use gedit at all) its background color is set to white.I barely can read it and it is useless.This is not a gnome-installation. Perhaps i miss a package needed ?

Jan 14, 2011

i am running slackware and i cant set my terminal to regular shell. when i open up a terminal i see something like bash4.1 instead of hostname and...

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An A-Z Index of the Bash command line | SS64.com alias Create an alias • apropos Search Help manual pages (man -k) apt-get Search for and install software packages (Debian/Ubuntu) aptitude Search for and install software packages (Debian/Ubuntu) aspell Spell Checker awk Find and Replace text, database sort/validate/index b basename Strip directory and suffix from filenames bash GNU Bourne-Again SHell bc Arbitrary precision calculator language bg Send to background bind Set or display readline key and function bindings • break Exit from a loop • builtin Run a shell builtin bzip2 Compress or decompress named file(s) c cal Display a calendar case Conditionally perform a command cat Concatenate and print (display) the content of files cd Change Directory cfdisk Partition table manipulator for Linux chgrp Change group ownership chmod Change access permissions chown Change file owner and group chroot Run a command with a different...
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On Dec 19, 2007 1:21 AM, James Macele Jones

[hidden email]

> wrote:


> Hash: SHA1


> I've been using Linux for a little while now, and I had a friend who

> just installed kubuntu ask me what the differences are between a shell,

> linux console, and a terminal were? I'm embarrassed to say I don't know

> the difference myself. I've always used them interchangeably.


> Have I been mistaken, is there some difference between them?

In the mainframe world I live in, the shell is a command processor, a
terminal is a remotely connected keyboard/display unit and the console
is a locally (although not necessarily so these days) connected
keyboard/display unit.

There are usually many terminals connection to the processor (tens of
thousands perhaps) whereas consoles will number in the 1 - 10 range.
The difference is subtle, but you can see the...

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These terms often go together, so people use one of the terms to refer to the collection. (i.e. it's usually obvious from context that they mean a terminal window providing an interface to a command line shell).

To keep this from getting to long-winded, I'm just going to say xterm as a stand-in for XTerm / Gnome Terminal / Konsole / mrxvt / etc / etc. Same for bash.

Console has multiple other specific meanings, so leave that out for now.

Terminal: Something that provides human interaction with programs through a bidirectional stream of ASCII / UTF8 / other characters, usually with VT100 or similar escape code processing. (E.g. backspace, delete, arrow keys, etc. generate escape codes. Programs can print escape codes to move the cursor around the terminal screen, switch to bold text, and/or color, clear or scroll the screen, etc.) In the old days, this was often a dedicated appliance with a screen and keyboard and a serial port. Now, it's usually a program like...

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Think to another context, that is development.
Even if you don't have a very deep knowledge of development, you probably know the basics, that is: you edit a program, you submit it to a compiler or to an interpreter that builds a compiled application.
The console is like the editor of your program; it helps you in writing but it doesn't really execute anything: when you have finished you send it to the compiler for that.

You can use your preferred editor, vim, gedit, emacs, notepad++, Netbeans, eclise etc.etc but at the end they are just different tools: if you write the same program the output will be the same.
In this metaphor, the shell is the compiler. The commands that are entered into the terminal, are sent to the shell that interprets them and executes them immediately.
So, while terminals are just front-ends for the shell, the shell contains the actual language, as happens for the compiler.

Obviously a terminal is not exactly a text...

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Yes, there is a lot of confusion about these terms. I'll give it a stab, but with the proviso that this is really semantics and the terms are used interchangeably in everyday speech :

"Shell" is the term used for any program which runs others. It wraps around another program, hence its name. So for example, Windows Explorer is a shell, even though very few people would call it one. In all the languages and platforms I have used, any program can be a shell.

EDIT: I did not define a "terminal". It gets its name from being the end-point of communication with the user. Specifically it was the typewriter device used for end-user communication. Today it is rather more general, and can mean a pseudo-terminal (pts in Linux ps -ef), which is a character-based session managed by a GUI. On Windows this would be called a "console window".

"Console" means something specific, but different, on Windows and UNIX. On UNIX originally it was the tty (TeleTYpewriter, a VDU was a...

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"console" is typically just a generalized term for a text-based interface. It could be part of the operating system, it could be a command entry window in a video game, etc.

"terminal" is sometimes used generically as well, but most people use it as shorthand for "terminal emulator" which is a program that you use to get a text interface within a graphical environment (e.g. xterm).

"shell" refers to the program being run inside the terminal emulator that processes commands. A shell accepts user input to launch programs and also handles communication between programs (e.g. UNIX pipes and redirection) and environment variables. bash is a popular shell.

"cmd" is the command line interface for Windows, offering a DOS-like environment.

I'm not that familiar with it, but "Powershell" is another command line interface for Windows, but based on their .NET framework rather than old DOS commands (and hence it's more...

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Okay, I will go one-by-one.
1. The one icon which you click and usually a black screen emerges with a prompt waiting for you something to type.
username@computername:~$ _
is actually a program which facilitates you with invoking a "SHELL" prompt.
The shell is now a process which is running in context of your program which initiated it. It keeps on waiting for your command, interprets it, and performs some tasks by either printing something on the screen again, or, forking another process related to that command to serve the job.

Shell is an interpreting process.

So far, so good.
[If you close that program, you will eventually lose your shell session(process)]

2. Terminal is a term which came way back when computer was invented. They used to have a hardcore black-and-white terminals which used to have nothing but a simple command-line interface.
Terminal refers to the same program which I talked in #1, remember?
Yes, the same program...

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Yes, the terminal emulator and the shell are two different programs. As you're aware, one example of the difference is that launching a terminal window can run different shells depending on what you have configured (bash, tcsh, ksh, ash, even python!).

Another difference is that there are more terminal emulators than just the default: gnome-terminal, several varieties of xterm, konsole (for KDE), etc. (see: http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/ubuntu/set-the-default-terminal-emulator-on-ubuntu-linux/ ). Any shell can be run in any of these terminal emulators, without much difficulty.

A third difference is that, besides running shell commands, you can also start certain interactive applications in your terminal emulator, and they will run in the same window (and still relying on the same terminal emulator program to handle the actual graphics), such as the vim text editor, the nethack RPG, and others. If you wanted, you could set up a profile in your terminal emulator to...

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The shell is a typical Unix program. It reads commands from the standard input and prints something on the standard output. This is simple and good.

The points is: In a graphical environment (like GNOME or KDE) a program cannot just write text directly on the desktop. If the programs could, this would quickly become a mess and chaos. Therefore you need a program that provides a space where other programs can write their text. That program also accepts keystrokes from the user and converts them into byte sequences, since this is what many programs (command-line, text based, not GUI) expect. All this is the job of the GNOME Terminal application.

So you have the shell (probably bash), and wrapped around it is the GNOME terminal. To see what exactly the GNOME terminal does you can run (Alt+F2) gnome-terminal, xterm and rxvt in between and see where they are different and what they have in...

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