Home » What is the difference between interactive shells, login shells, non-login shell and their use cases? [duplicate]

What is the difference between interactive shells, login shells, non-login shell and their use cases? [duplicate]

Solutons:


A shell is the generic name for any program that gives you a text-interface to interact with the computer. You type a command and the output is shown on screen.

Many shells have scripting abilities: Put multiple commands in a script and the shell executes them as if they were typed from the keyboard. Most shells offer additional programming constructs that extend the scripting feature into a programming language.

On most Unix/Linux systems multiple shells are available: bash, csh, ksh, sh, tcsh, zsh just to name a few. They differ in the various options they give the user to manipulate the commands and in the complexity and capabilities of the scripting language.

Interactive: As the term implies: Interactive means that the commands are run with user-interaction from keyboard. E.g. the shell can prompt the user to enter input.

Non-interactive: the shell is probably run from an automated process so it can’t assume it can request input or that someone will see the output. E.g., maybe it is best to write output to a log file.

Login: Means that the shell is run as part of the login of the user to the system. Typically used to do any configuration that a user needs/wants to establish his work environment.

Non-login: Any other shell run by the user after logging on, or which is run by any automated process which is not coupled to a logged in user.

It might be strange to realize for some of people who never had a comp disconnected from Internet, that lots of answers regarding UNIX systems are already shipped with them. For e. g., man bash, “Invocation” section:

An interactive shell is one started without non-option arguments and without the -c option whose standard input and error are both connected to terminals (as determined by isatty(3)), or one started with the -i option. PS1 is set and $- includes i if bash is interactive, allowing a shell script or a startup file to test this state.

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