Shell Scripting Basics by IBM

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Welcome to Shell Scripting Basics.

After watching this video, you will be able to: Outline what a script is. List use cases for scripting. Describe the ‘shebang’ interpreter directive. Create and run a simple ’hello_world’ shell script.
A script is a list of commands that can be interpreted and run by a program called scripting language. Commands can be entered interactively at the command line, or listed line by line in a text file. Scripting languages are usually not compiled. They are interpreted at runtime. Scripts are generally slower to run than compiled languages, but they are also much easier and faster to develop. Scripts are widely used to automate processes, such as ETL jobs, file backups and archiving, and general system administration tasks. You can use scripts for nearly any computational task including, application integration, and plug-in and web application development. A shell script is an executable text file in which the first line usually has the form of an interpreter directive. The interpreter directive is also known as a ‘shebang’ directive, and has the following form: ‘pound, bang, interpreter’ plus an optional argument. Interpreter is an absolute path to an executable program, and the optional argument is a string representing a single argument.

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Shell scripts are scripts that invoke a shell program. For example:

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‘#!/bin/sh’ invokes the Bourne shell or other compatible shell program, from the bin directory.

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‘#!/bin/bash’ ‘shebang’ invokes the Bash shell. ‘Shebang’ directives aren’t limited to shell programs. For example, you could create a python script with the following directive:

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‘#!/usr/bin/env python3’. Here we demonstrate how a shell script can be used to run a program with a simple ‘hello world’ example. From the command prompt, you can create a simple ‘hello world shell script’ as follows: Use the touch command to create an empty text file called ‘’

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The ‘.sh’ extension is a convention used to indicate that the file is a shell script. Now, turn your text file into a bash script by echoing the bash shebang, and appending that echoed text to your file using the ‘double greater than symbol,’ which is the Bash ‘output redirection’ operator used for appending output to file. Finally, use the echo command to print the statement ‘echo Hello World’ and again, redirect that output to your bash script. Before you can run your bash script, you need to make it executable. First, check the current permission settings of your script by using the ‘ls’ command with the ‘-l’ option. The R and W entries indicate that the script is readable and writable, but the lack of an X means it is not executable. The R, W, and X entries apply to three user-based permission groups: the owner, which is you, the group, and all users. You can make it executable for all users by invoking the ‘chmod’ command with the ‘plus X’ option. Checking the permission settings now shows that your script is executable for all users, due to the ‘X’ entries for all three per mission groups.

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Now you can finally run your bash script by typing

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‘./’ and pressing enter, and the text ‘hello world’ appears on the command line.

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In this video, you learned that: A shell script is an executable text file that begins with a ‘shebang’ interpreter directive.

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A shell script can be used to execute commands as well as run other programs. Scripting languages are not compiled, they are interpreted at run time. Compiled languages may be much faster than scripting languages, but they also require more development time.

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