When you do administrative tasks on your system, you can usually use either of these interfaces:
The system includes a choice of desktop graphical user interfaces (GUI). Moving around from window to window, and executing commands, is done largely through the use of a mouse device (as opposed to typing command lines at a prompt).
If a system administration task can be done from the desktop, it is found in the SCOadmin launcher. SCOadmin makes it easy to complete most common system administration tasks, but it does not cover all tasks, or all possible variations of a task that you might need to do.
For example, if you are configuring a local or remote printer, you can start the SCOadmin launcher, then select the Printer Setup Manager, which opens a window in which you can perform the task. But, if you need to define user priority levels for making print requests, you can only do this task through the shell interface.
The shell, or command line, interface is the traditional method used to enter commands and work with files in the UNIX operating system. This interface is typically referred to as ``the shell'' or the ``command line interpreter''. It is often preferred by many professional system administrators and users who have some background in computer science or experience with earlier versions of the UNIX system.
By executing commands and editing system files you can do the same administration tasks you can do in the other administrative interfaces. In addition, you can connect the output from one command to the input of another command (using pipes), execute recursive operations using loops, and direct the output to a file or device. See Customizing your environment for more information.
When you log in to a system that is not running
a desktop interface, or when you open a terminal window
from the desktop,
you are presented with a shell prompt.
The shell prompt, by default, is the pound sign (
#) for the
user and a dollar sign (
all other users, but you can change it if you like.
The prompt is the system's way of notifying you that it is
ready to execute your command.