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Bash (Bourne-Again shell): principle, benefits, training

- Reading Time: 5 minutes

Bash is the most popular shell, widely used in the field of computer programming, as well as for Data Science and Machine Learning. Discover everything you need to know about it: how it works, its utility, benefits, and available training.

Since the early days of computing, to enable humans to interact with computers, computer engineers developed a ‘shell’ for computers. One of the most popular ones is Bash: Bourne-Again Shell.

What is Bash ?

Developed by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) as part of the GNU Project, Bash is highly regarded within the Open Source community.

It is now the most widely used UNIX shell due to its distribution with Linux.

Therefore, it is an important computer tool to know and master. It serves as both a command interpreter and a programming language.

Bash is executed by various terminals, such as GNOME Terminal or Konsole on Linux and iTerm2 on macOS. When you start a terminal running the Bash shell, a ‘prompt’ appears. This is a symbol. Typically, this symbol is the dollar sign: ‘$’. This ‘prompt’ indicates that the shell is waiting for a command input.

Thus, Bash is an application whose main function is to execute other applications installed on the same system in the form of commands. To learn how to use Bash, you also need to learn the commands used on the operating system on which it is launched.

Bash commands on Linux and Unix

On Linux and Unix systems, most commands are stored by default in system directories such as /usr/bin and /bin. When you provide a command to Bash, it looks in a specific directory on the system to check if that command exists. If it does, it executes it.

Furthermore, Bash itself is also a command. Typically, it’s the default command executed when you open a terminal window or a text console.

Some commands are built directly into Bash. Most of them are specific to scripting in Bash, but some are universal. One such universal command is ‘cd’ for ‘change directory’ (to change the current working directory).

How do I launch Bash?

Most modern Linux and Unix distributions provide Bash as the default shell because Bash is well-known and offers several very useful features that other shells do not.

However, some systems use a different default shell. To check if you are using the Bash shell, you can use the ‘echo’ command with a special variable representing the name of the currently running process.

If you are not using Bash but would like to, you can simply download and install this shell from your software center, software repository, or package manager. You can also use Chocolatey on Windows or Homebrew on macOS.

What's Bash for?

Bash is a versatile interface for your computer. It is not only used by server administrators and programmers.

This shell can serve as a desktop, a word processor, an image editing application, and much more. Some people use Bash more than their desktop applications.

There are indeed hundreds of Bash commands for Linux and Unix, and their diversity knows no bounds. For example, you can resize or crop photos without even opening them in a viewer or editing software.

Commands like ‘ogg123’ and ‘mpg321’ can play music. The ‘sox’ command can convert audio files. ‘ffmpeg’ is used for video editing, while ’emacs’ and ‘vim’ are text editors.

Similarly, ‘pine’ and ‘mutt’ commands are used for checking emails, and ‘elinks’ is used for web browsing. All these Bash commands can be found on the system or in the software repository.

What are the advantages of Bash?

There are other shells as powerful as Bash. However, Bash adds several convenient features such as double square brackets that simplify syntax.

Certainly, these double square brackets are specific to Bash and are not POSIX compatible. This can cause compatibility issues on systems not running Bash. However, this software is free and open source and can be installed on any system.

Bash scripting

The popularity of Bash is closely tied to its performance. Indeed, this shell is ‘scriptable.’ Anything that can be entered manually in Bash can also be listed in a plain text file and executed by Bash.

Rather than spending hours manually entering hundreds of commands, it’s possible to script these commands and let the computer execute them. And since Linux is almost entirely based on the Bash shell, almost everything can be scripted on Linux.

This opens up many possibilities for automation. Linux users save a tremendous amount of time through scripting by automating their own workflows.

Bash for Data Science

In the field of Data Science, Python and R are widely used programming languages. They act as microscopes for data, allowing you to explore data in great detail.

However, when you are not yet familiar with the data you are working with, this microscopic approach may not be suitable. It’s better to use a ‘magnifying glass’ that provides a simple, close-up view of the data. This is the role of Bash in data science.

Bash scripting allows you to perform operations with fewer commands than in Python, and many Linux commands available in Bash are more efficient than implementations that can be done in a Python shell script.

These commands are available on all POSIX-compliant operating systems, including Linux and macOS. This portability proves very useful when working in environments such as cloud computing instances or high-performance computing.

In general, Bash scripting is very useful for creating data pipelines. That’s why it’s an essential tool for Data Scientists.

Bash for Machine Learning

Machine Learning offers numerous possibilities, especially for forecasting or prediction. However, it’s necessary to collect and prepare a vast amount of data and then create mathematical models based on this data.

Many tools can accomplish these tasks, but a shell like Bash proves to be particularly useful. One of the main advantages is its portability across different operating systems like Linux, macOS, and Windows

How do I learn Bash?

As you may have understood, Bash is an indispensable tool for Data Science and Machine Learning as it allows for significant time savings in data collection, preparation, and analysis.

To learn how to master this tool, you can turn to DataScientest. We offer numerous training programs in the field of Data Science, and Bash is one of the concepts covered.

Our Data Engineer training program enables you to become a data engineer. You’ll learn how to build data acquisition and automatic data processing pipelines, deploy Machine Learning models in production servers, and define a comprehensive data strategy.

Bash is part of this training program, within the dedicated programming module. Through this module, you will also learn how to work with the Python language.

If you are already a Data Scientist and want to enhance your skills, we also offer a Machine Learning Engineer training program.

This curriculum will teach you how to develop APIs to isolate Machine Learning processes, automate the deployment of processes and data pipelines, and put Machine Learning pipelines into production.

Again, Bash is included in the programming module of this training program, along with advanced Python, Linux, and virtual environments. You will have the opportunity to master this shell in great detail.

All DataScientest training programs adopt an innovative Blended Learning approach and can be completed in a continuous training format or as an intensive BootCamp. Upon completion of the program, you will receive a diploma certified by the University of Sorbonne. Don’t wait any longer; discover our training programs now.

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