Shell scripting vs. coding: which is better? Find out with these examples

Table of content

  1. Introduction
  2. Benefits of Shell Scripting
  3. Benefits of Coding
  4. Examples of Shell Scripting
  5. Examples of Coding
  6. When to use Shell Scripting
  7. When to use Coding
  8. Conclusion


If you're new to programming, you may be wondering whether to start with shell scripting or coding. While both approaches have their advantages, there are some key differences to consider.

Shell scripting is a way to automate the execution of tasks on a Unix or Linux system using commands written in a shell language such as bash. It can be useful for tasks like file manipulation, system administration, and network programming. Coding, on the other hand, involves writing programs in a high-level programming language like Python or Java.

So, which is better? It depends on your goals and what you want to accomplish. If you're interested in automating tasks on a Unix or Linux system or working in system administration or network programming, shell scripting may be the way to go. If you're interested in writing complex programs or developing web applications, coding may be the better choice.

That being said, there's no reason you can't learn both! In fact, learning shell scripting can be a great way to gain a better understanding of how Unix/Linux systems work, which can be valuable if you're interested in system administration or network programming.

In the following sections, we'll dive deeper into each approach and provide some examples of how each can be used. Regardless of which approach you choose, the most important thing is to practice and experiment. Don't be afraid to make mistakes and try new things – that's how you'll learn and grow as a programmer.

Benefits of Shell Scripting

Shell scripting is an essential skill that allows you to automate tasks and improve your productivity. Here are some benefits of learning shell scripting:

  • Efficiency: With shell scripting, you can automate repetitive tasks that could take hours to complete manually. For example, you can write a shell script to create backups of your files or update all the packages on your system with a single command.

  • Simplicity: Shell scripting is easy to learn and use. You don't need to have a programming background to get started. The syntax is intuitive, and there are plenty of resources available to help you.

  • Flexibility: Shell scripts are portable and can run on any Unix-based system. They can also be combined with other scripts or programs to create complex workflows.

  • Transparency: Shell scripts are easy to read and modify. You can view the code, understand how it works, and make changes to it according to your needs. This makes it easy to troubleshoot and debug code, even if you didn't write it.

  • Community: The shell scripting community is large, active, and supportive. You can find plenty of resources online, including forums, blogs, and social media sites. You can also ask for help if you get stuck or need guidance.

In conclusion, shell scripting is a vital skill that can make your life easier and help you become more productive. Whether you're a software developer, system administrator, or just a power user, learning shell scripting can deliver significant benefits.

Benefits of Coding

While shell scripting has its advantages, coding can take your problem-solving skills to the next level. By learning a programming language, such as Python, you can automate tasks, build complex applications, and develop your own software.

One of the main is the flexibility it provides. With Python, you can build a wide range of applications, from web development to machine learning. Plus, you can use Python in conjunction with other tools and frameworks to create even more powerful solutions.

Another advantage of coding is the community support. Python has a large and active community of developers, who contribute to open-source libraries and provide support on forums, blogs, and social media. By becoming a part of this community, you can learn from others, collaborate on projects, and stay up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices.

Overall, coding is a valuable skill that can enhance your career prospects and help you solve problems more efficiently. However, it takes time and effort to master, so it's important to start with the basics and practice regularly. Avoid the temptation to buy books or use complex IDEs before you are comfortable with the foundational concepts. Instead, start with the official Python tutorial, experiment with simple programs, and gradually build up your skills. By following this approach, you'll be on your way to becoming a proficient Python coder in no time.

Examples of Shell Scripting

Shell scripting is a powerful tool for automating tasks on your computer. Here are a few examples to help you get started:

1. Automating file backups

Let's say you want to create a automatic file backup system that will run every day at midnight. You can achieve this using shell scripting. Start by creating a script named and add the following code:

cd /path/to/backup/folder
tar -czvf $(date +%Y_%m_%d_%H_%M_%S).tar.gz /path/to/files/to/backup

This script will compress and archive all files in the specified directory and save them with a unique timestamp in the backup folder.

Next, make the script executable by running chmod +x To schedule the backup to run every day at midnight, add the following line to your crontab:

0 0 * * * /path/to/

2. Web scraping

Web scraping involves extracting data from websites automatically. This can be done by requesting the website's HTML code and parsing it to extract the desired information. Here's an example script that extracts the titles of the top 10 trending repositories on GitHub using curl and grep.

curl -s '' | grep -o '<h1><a.*</a></h1>' | sed 's/<[^>]*>//g'

This script requests GitHub's trending page, greps for HTML tags containing the repository titles, and removes the tags using sed. To save the titles to a file, just add > output.txt to the end of the command.

3. System information

You can use shell scripting to extract system information such as CPU usage, disk space, and memory usage. Here's an example script that displays the current CPU usage.

top -bn1 | grep load | awk '{printf "CPU Load: %.2f\n", $(NF-2)}'

This script uses the top command to extract the current CPU usage and displays it in a formatted string using awk.

These are just a few examples of what you can do with shell scripting. By learning shell scripting, you can automate repetitive tasks, extract data from websites, and extract system information with ease.

Examples of Coding

Coding can refer to a wide variety of programming languages, each with its own unique syntax and purpose. However, for the purposes of this subtopic, we will focus specifically on Python, a popular and user-friendly programming language that is well-suited for beginners.

One of the best ways to learn Python is by starting with the official Python tutorial, which provides a step-by-step guided introduction to the language. From there, it's important to practice coding on your own, applying what you've learned in various projects and exercises.

There are many online resources available for Python learners, including blogs, social media groups, and coding communities. It's a good idea to subscribe to some of these resources to stay up-to-date on the latest developments and best practices.

When it comes to coding, it's important to avoid some common pitfalls. For example, many beginners make the mistake of buying expensive books or using complex Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) before they've mastered the basics. Instead, focus on building a strong foundation by practicing your coding skills regularly, and experimenting with different tools and techniques to find what works best for you.

By following these tips and practicing regularly, anyone can learn to code in Python, and unlock the many benefits and opportunities that come with it. Whether you're looking to build your own apps, automate repetitive tasks, or pursue a career in tech, Python is an accessible and powerful tool that can help you achieve your goals.

When to use Shell Scripting


Shell scripting is a popular choice for automating repetitive tasks, such as file management or system administration. If you find yourself performing the same task repeatedly, then shell scripting might be the solution for you. It's also a good choice for simple automation tasks that do not require complex logic or external libraries.

Shell scripting is particularly useful for system administrators who need to manage multiple servers or machines. For example, you could use shell scripts to automate the deployment of software updates or to manage backups across different machines. It's also a good choice for DevOps engineers who need to automate the deployment and scaling of applications.

Shell scripting is not a good choice for complex applications or applications that need to interact with external libraries or APIs. In those cases, you'll likely need to use a programming language like Python or Ruby.

That being said, shell scripting is a valuable skill to have in your toolkit, especially if you work in a DevOps or system administration role. It can save you time and reduce the risk of human errors, allowing you to focus on more important tasks. So if you find yourself performing repetitive tasks or managing multiple machines, then it's worth spending some time learning how to use shell scripts effectively.

When to use Coding

Coding is best suited for complex applications that require a high level of customization and functionality. If you're building an app or game from scratch, or you want to create something that doesn't have a pre-existing solution, coding is the way to go.

Another advantage of coding is its flexibility. Unlike shell scripts, you have complete control over every aspect of your code, from syntax to style. This means you can fine-tune your program to meet your precise needs and specifications.

However, coding comes with a steeper learning curve than shell scripting. You'll need to spend time mastering the basics of programming before you can start building complex applications. This can be daunting for beginners, but it's worth the effort if you're looking to build a career in software development or pursue a challenging programming project.

In summary, if you're looking to build complex software applications or want complete control over your program's functionality and design, coding is the better choice. However, be prepared to invest time and effort in learning the basics before diving into more complex projects.


In , both shell scripting and coding have their own strengths and weaknesses. Acknowledging the differences between the two and choosing the right tool for the job is crucial. If you need to automate file or system management tasks in a Unix-based environment, shell scripting can be an effective solution. On the other hand, if you need to build a complex application or work with data, coding in a high-level language like Python, Java, or Ruby may be a better choice.

When it comes to learning Python, taking a structured approach can help you master the language faster and more efficiently. Start by going through the Python documentation and tutorial, practicing with online coding challenges, and experimenting with small projects. Resist the temptation to buy expensive books or use complex IDEs before you have a solid grasp of the basics. Finally, subscribe to relevant blogs and social media sites to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and tools in the Python community. With time and practice, you can become a proficient Python developer and take advantage of the many opportunities that this versatile language offers.

My passion for coding started with my very first program in Java. The feeling of manipulating code to produce a desired output ignited a deep love for using software to solve practical problems. For me, software engineering is like solving a puzzle, and I am fully engaged in the process. As a Senior Software Engineer at PayPal, I am dedicated to soaking up as much knowledge and experience as possible in order to perfect my craft. I am constantly seeking to improve my skills and to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies in the field. I have experience working with a diverse range of programming languages, including Ruby on Rails, Java, Python, Spark, Scala, Javascript, and Typescript. Despite my broad experience, I know there is always more to learn, more problems to solve, and more to build. I am eagerly looking forward to the next challenge and am committed to using my skills to create impactful solutions.

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