The Unix Shell

The Unix shell has been around longer than most of its users have been alive. It has survived so long because it's a power tool that allows people to do complex things with just a few keystrokes. More importantly, it helps them combine existing programs in new ways and automate repetitive tasks so that they don't have to type the same things over and over again. Use of the shell is fundamental to using a wide range of other powerful tools and computing resources (including "high performance computing" supercomputers). These lessons will start you on a path towards using these resources effectively.


This lesson guides you through the basics of filesystems and the shell. If you have stored files on a computer at all and recognize the word “file” and either “directory” or “folder” (two common words for the same thing), you're ready for this lesson.

If you're already comfortable manipulating files and directories, searching for files with grep and find, and writing simple loops and scripts, you probably won't learn much from this lesson.


  1. Introducing the Shell
  2. Files and Directories
  3. Creating Things
  4. Pipes and Filters
  5. Loops
  6. Shell Scripts
  7. Finding Things

Other Resources