I find myself asking more and more questions that might overlap with SO.

Where should I ask bash questions that focus more on the bash language than they do on unix? Here or on SO?


3 Answers 3


In my opinion, bash is not a programmer language like C or Java. It is more an administrator language and more administrators are the experts of bash.

Of course you can write complex applications with bash, but most of the time, you use it to manage the execution and behavior of other programs. You are also not calling functions with bash, you are executing programs/builtins which you are calling the same way while browsing your shell ;)

Many answers of questions posted here will be a bash script. If we move all bash questions to SO and every second answer is a bash script, everybody will confuse.

My suggestion: Allow bash questions, but cut off other scripting languages

  • That's a good distinction. "How do I do X in bash?" I would leave here, as very often a bash script is not the best way (you can usually just chain utils together to pull it off). "How do I do X in a bash script?" I consider programming, but am willing to leave here if people want Commented Sep 17, 2010 at 17:42
  • Also, I suspect you meant bash the first time you said java in the second paragraph :) Commented Sep 17, 2010 at 17:43
  • @Michael Mrozek: changed it ;)
    – krissi
    Commented Sep 17, 2010 at 20:57
  • 1
    @krissi I assume by "other scripting languages" you mean non unix shell because technically zsh, etc, is another scripting language. Commented Sep 18, 2010 at 19:24
  • @xenoterracide: Yes, I used bash as synonym for all these unix shell languages ;)
    – krissi
    Commented Sep 18, 2010 at 19:53
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    @Michael: I thought shell scripting was how you chained utils together?
    – SamB
    Commented Dec 19, 2010 at 6:52
  • @SamB I meant piping tools together in the shell itself, e.g. ls | sort | head -n10 Commented Dec 19, 2010 at 6:54
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    @Michael: oh, I hadn't realized there was a distinction :-)
    – SamB
    Commented Dec 19, 2010 at 6:57
  • @SamB There probably isn't much of one. We ended up making shell scripting on topic anyway (it even ended up with a bullet in the faq ), so it doesn't really matter Commented Dec 19, 2010 at 7:34

If it's anything you would type into a terminal it definitely belongs here. Questions about entire shell scripts are fuzzy; they are technically programming and I would personally ask them on SO, but I'm not sure we need to close them if people choose to ask them here. When we're out of beta we can talk about potentially migrating them to SO


I think it's Unix. In certain cases you might get better/faster answers on StackOverflow but no reason you can't ask here, the shell is one of the most important features of Unix systems.

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