Bash scripting vs Python

Bash scripting and Python are two different ways to program and automate tasks on a Linux system. Many Linux users choose to learn one or the other, and some even learn both.

Although they have a lot of overlap in the purposes they serve, Bash scripts are mostly just shell commands that have been chained together, sometimes along with loops or conditional statements, and Python is a full fledged programming language, capable of creating everything from basic automation scripts to programs with graphical user interfaces.

In this tutorial, you will learn about some of the differences between Bash scripting and the Python programming language, specifically in the context of what both are capable of and used for on a Linux system.

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • Bash scripting vs Python, what are the differences?
Bash scripting vs Python
Bash scripting vs Python
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Any Linux distro
Software Bash shell (installed by default), Python
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # – requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ – requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

Bash Scripting vs Python

We will compare Bash scripting and Python programming across a few key areas below.

Main differences

Category Bash Python
What is it? Bash is a command line interpreter Python is a high level programming language
Basis Replacement for the sh Unix shell Based on object oriented programming languages
Purpose Interpret user commands and automate tasks Application and web development, automation
Best suited for Smaller and simple scripts, Linux systems In depth programs with many lines of code, multiple systems
Simplicity Simply runs the same commands as you would enter in terminal Can use objects and libraries to create complicated code
Availability Installed by default on Linux, nothing to download May or may not be installed, some programs rely on third party extensions

The table above highlights the main differences. You can keep reading if you want to get a more in depth idea of key differences between Bash scripting and Python programming.

System compatibility

Let’s start with an obvious, but very important one.

Most people think Bash scripting is for Linux. And that is true. But Bash is also available on Unix, BSD, and MacOS. Even Microsoft has made Bash easily available on Windows, through installation of Windows Subsystem for Linux. Therefore, you can certainly run Bash scripts on a variety of different operatings systems.

However, it remains most common and most practical on Linux. BSD, MacOS, and Windows do not use Bash by default. It is safe to say that if you are learning Bash scripting, you will be using it on Linux.

Contrast this with Python, which enjoys widespread support on Windows, Linux, MacOS, iOS, Android, etc. Many Python developers have not even touched Linux, as the two can be easily exclusive and do not depend on each other.

Core functionalities

Bash is a command line interpreter and user shell. You can use Bash all day without ever actually making a Bash script. Bash scripts themselves are basically just a series of commands executed in order. You can add conditional statements, loops, arithmetic operations, and other functions to add complexity, but it is still more of a scripting language and less of a programming language.

Python, on the other hand, is an object oriented programming language. It is capable of far more complex tasks and logic. It can do a lot more than just interact at the shell level – you can make GUIs and you can port programs across a variety of systems.

Bash is nice for its simplicity, and if you are automating tasks on Linux, Bash scripts work well for this job. Python can handle bigger challenges and be relied on in an environment with lots of different types of systems.

Closing Thoughts

In this tutorial, you learned about the principal differences between Bash scripting and Python programming. After knowing the differences and strengths of each, you can make a decision about which one is more worthwhile to learn (our suggestion: both!) and which one is better suited for tasks that you come across.

Comments and Discussions
Linux Forum