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UNIX is the name of the operating system used by our Sun computers and many other computers elsewhere. It acts as a kind of master of ceremonies, running programs, allotting space in memory, etc. Most of what is described in this section can be used on any system running UNIX.

The program that interacts with users is called a shell. The most common shell is called the C shell because parts of it work a lot like the C programming language. Some of the things described here are actually features of the C shell and will not work in other shells such as the Bourne shell. If you have never thought about shells, then you are almost certainly using a C shell. If you are sophisticated enough to run a shell other than the C Shell, you should know what kind of features are shell-dependent.