Am I Running Bash Or Sh

Shell Programming

Have you ever found yourself unsure whether you are running a Bash or a Sh shell? I know I have encountered this confusion numerous times, and it can be quite frustrating. In this article, I will delve deep into the intricacies of determining whether you are running Bash or Sh, and I will provide some tips and insights to help you confidently identify the shell you are using.

Distinguishing Between Bash and Sh

Firstly, it’s important to note that Bash (Bourne Again SHell) is a popular shell for Unix-based systems, while Sh (Bourne Shell) is a simpler precursor to Bash. One of the key differences between the two is that Bash is an extended version of Sh, offering additional features and capabilities.

When trying to ascertain which shell you are running, one approach is to check the default shell for your user account. You can do this by using the following command:

echo $SHELL

If the output of this command is /bin/bash, then you are running the Bash shell. On the other hand, if the output is /bin/sh, then you are using the Sh shell. However, this method may not always provide a definitive answer, as there are various factors that can influence the shell being used.

Another method involves examining the system’s symbolic links. The location of the shell binary can typically offer insights into which shell is being used. For example, you can use the ls -l /bin/sh command to view the symbolic link for the Sh shell.

Understanding Shell Features

To further differentiate between Bash and Sh, it’s beneficial to understand the unique features and functionalities of each shell. Bash, being an extended version of Sh, includes a wider range of capabilities such as command history, tab completion, and advanced scripting capabilities. Meanwhile, Sh is more streamlined and focuses on carrying out basic shell operations.

It’s worth noting that Bash is the default shell for many modern Unix-based systems, and it is commonly preferred for its versatility and robust scripting capabilities. Conversely, Sh is often utilized in scenarios where a lighter, more basic shell is sufficient for executing simple commands.


After exploring the methods for identifying whether you are running Bash or Sh, I hope you now feel more equipped to navigate the nuances of shell environments. By considering factors such as default shell configurations and examining symbolic links, you can gain a clearer understanding of the shell in use.

Remember, the differences between Bash and Sh extend beyond just their names – each shell offers distinct features and use cases. Whether you find yourself working in the feature-rich environment of Bash or the simplicity of Sh, knowing how to determine your current shell will undoubtedly enhance your command-line experience.