Using software in Unix

Posted on 2003-11-27
Last Modified: 2013-12-06

I'm trying to find out more about using
Unix.  In particular, how to use shell

After looking into this a little bit
on my own.  I'm not sure if I have the
right idea about how this works.

I read an article on how to telnet and
open a free shell account on

Which I did, but I can't see what this
service really does.  I had the idea
that if I learned how to access a Unix
shell I would be accessing a Unix OS.

And that I'd be able to use Unix software,
but I don't see how you go about setting up
any software.  I just got logged on
and that seems to be all there is to do.

Unless you want to reconnect to some other

So my question is, can a Unix shell be used
to set up and operate Unix software.

Thank You,



Question by:tabatha393
LVL 18

Accepted Solution

liddler earned 44 total points
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It looks like is a small unix shell account, it is for practising Unix shell commands, like ls, find, man, cd, vi etc
It probably will not let you install software.
a Unix shell, is like MSDOS it is for running commands and writing small shell scripts (like batch files)

To learn more about Unix like operating systems, the best thing to do, if you have a PC available is to install a Unix or Unix like operating system on it, such as Solaris x86, linux or BSD.  There are many different distributions / options, but they are all Unix-like.

Assisted Solution

mbekker earned 43 total points
Comment Utility
Hi Tabatha,

The answer is yes, you could use a Unix shell to set up and operate Unix software!

Depending on what kind of OS the server is running on you can list what software is installed. For example:

Linux: rpm -qa
AIX: lslpp -L (installp filesets) and rpm -qa (RPM packages)

You could use commands cd and ls to look into different directories, the ps command to determine which processes are running etc.

Try to figure out which OS the system is running and find the corresponding user/system administration documentation for it.

Good luck!
LVL 61

Expert Comment

Comment Utility
public shell providers may have some policy against some kinds of software, like smtp and irc clients

Assisted Solution

ITcrow earned 43 total points
Comment Utility

If you have windows installed and you are interested in learning about *nix, an easier solution will be 'cygwin'.
Ref. and Download:

Once you are familiar with the shell, get yourself an x86 Linux build (from Redhat, Suse, etc.) and install it on your PC. You will require additional disk space or some software like "Partition Magic" to resize existing partition(s).

Good Luck.

Expert Comment

Comment Utility

 You could use ANY software that you could use on a Windows -like Operating System, even much more, and more powerful and flexible that on a visual enviroment. (not that an Unix-like OS doesn't have a visual enviroment.) But let's just stay for the moment on the Text-based eviroment.
 There are programs, like in MS-DOS, or Windows command prompt, used for basic system functionality, like copy files or folders, rename them, erase them, list, get filesize and disk / directory sizes.
 Also there are programs, unlike MS-DOS, that helps you use those basinc commands to make scripts, tasks that run on specific date and time (see cron). here begins the flexibility of an Unix like Operating System.
 And final there are programs that run ON the selected Unix platform, like any "installed after" program that you will need or require. (see *BSD ports collection).
 Another specific aspect is the networking power of a Unix-Like OS, dynamic, configurable, powerful, FAsssT, and with LESS hardware requirements than ANY other type of OS platforms.
 Another strong point for Unix-Like OS is that most of them runs on a very large variety of platforms (CPU types, RISC, CISC ... ), supports APIC (multiprocessing) and many other pieces of hardware.
 Like the gentlemens said above, you will need to install a copy of ANY Unix-Like OS, your choise (and don't ask "what is the best" because there ALL are good, depends for what are you looking for. )

 I used most of Unix distributions on many platforms (RISC and CISC) and my favourite are *BSD - like OSes, FreeBSD at most, it's fast, and erasy configurable , the port (/usr/ports) let's you install applications with a simple "make install" command for over 12000 aPps.

 So, I hope you will be OK with your new experience, and it will satisfy you truly ...
 For now ... try "uname -a" for identifying OS version.

                                        Cheers ...

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