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Unix Concepts

The Unix operating system makes it very easy for programs to use the terminal. When a program writes something to your screen, it is using something called standard output . Standard output, abbreviated as stdout, is how the program writes things to a user. The name for what you tell a program is standard input  (stdin). It's possible for a program to communicate with the user without using standard input or output, but very rare--all of the commands we have covered so far use stdin and stdout.

For example, the ls  command prints the list of the directories to standard output, which is normally ``connected'' to your terminal. An interactive command, such as your shell, bash , reads your commands from standard input.

It is also possible for a program to write to standard error , since it is very easy to make standard output point somewhere besides your terminal. Standard error, stderr, is almost always connected to a terminal so an actual human will read the message.

In this section, we're going to examine three ways of fiddling with the standard input and output: input redirection, output redirection, and pipes.

Converted on:
Mon Apr 1 08:59:56 EST 1996