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Difference between 'Terminal' , 'Command Line', 'Command Prompt', 'Shell' and 'Powershell'

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From: Arran S.
Date: Thu 4th Mar 2021, 12:35pm

Hi Marlon.

I would not stress about detailed definitions for all these - we'll be looking at 
Powershell, for instance, in week 12, and you'll find out all about it then.

And thanks Jason for your definitions.

Briefly, I'd say:

- "Terminal" means some way of accessing a text interface for a computer. Once upon a 
time, that meant a "teletype machine" (see the attached image). Later, it meant a 
dedicated computer terminal - like a screen and keyboard, but with no computer "of their 
own", instead having a connection to a shared computer. These days, it *usually* means a 
small window on a computer desktop through which you can access the same sort of text 
interface people used to access using teletypes.

- "Command line" is usually used in a phrase like "from the command line", or "having a 
command-line interface" -- you can take it as meaning "from within a terminal", or 
"having an interface that's accessible from a terminal".

- For "shell", you might want to look at how Shotts, the author for out textbook, defines 
I'd define it as "a program that provides users with a way of communicating with and 
controlling the operating system for a computer". (Wikipedia suggests also that the term 
"graphical shell" can be used for the sort of graphical desktop interface that many 
computers have today, but I've never heard that term used.)

- "PowerShell" is a particular sort of shell, initially developed for use with Windows 
computers -- but you *can* now use it from Linux computers as well (though that's not 

I hope that clarifies things a bit! Also do feel free to ask in lectures if any 
terminology is unclear.



"Marlon Moreira" <22*2*9*[email protected]*u*e*t*u*a*e*u*a*> wrote:

> Hi Arran,
> Can you pls explain the following terms using examples where possible: 'Terminal', 
> 'Command Line', 'Command Prompt', 'Shell' and 'Powershell'.
> I've heard all of these terms used interchangeably/in a similar I'm a 
> little confused! 
> Thanks

Related articles

Difference between 'Terminal' , 'Command Line', 'Command Prompt', 'Shell' and 'Powershell' (all 4) RSS
├─ original   Thu 25th Feb 2021, 8:56pm, Marlon M.
├─ reply 1 🍕 Fri 26th Feb 2021, 9:00am, Jason C.
├─ reply 2   Fri 26th Feb 2021, 2:26pm, Marlon M.  O.P.
└─ THIS   Thu 4th Mar 2021, 12:35pm, Arran S.
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