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I know this might sound foolish but I just wanted to know if there is really a difference between the two words used in the Linux world. I do know that the Shell is a Command Line Interface and has many variants like Bash, Korn, etc. And I also know that a Ctrl+Alt+T launches a terminal on Ubuntu. I just want to connect these two dots.

Does it mean the terminal is the window that opens up and the shell is the program that runs behind to interpret the commands typed in the window? Or are they same wherein terminal is a generic term used to abstract the concepts of Shell,etc?

What is it that exactly differentiates the two words?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 16 down vote accepted

The terminal emulator (often just called terminal) is "just the window", yes. It runs a text based program, which by default is your login shell (which is bash in Ubuntu). When you type characters in the window, the terminal draws these characters in the window in addition to sending it to the shell's (or other program's) stdin. The characters the shell outputs to stdout and stderr get sent to the terminal, which in turn draws these characters in the window.

So yes, the shell and the terminal emulator are completely separate programs, and either can be used without the other.

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I think this question has been explored pretty thoroughly on the Unix and Linux stackexchange site: Differences between shell, console and terminal

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May be you could add the essential parts of the link into your answer? –  jokerdino Mar 9 '12 at 12:28

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