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I have some web space that I'd like to play around with. I know some HTML and how to design webpages, but what I want to do is be able to use bash.

I have no idea what I'm talking about, so bare with me. A while ago, a friend of mine did this:


And then was able to log in to some kind of linux, using a bash shell. Is this Apache? And how can I do this myself?

Based on the one response so far, it seems that what I want to do is somehow get some form of linux on my webspace and then install SSH. How can I do that?

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To respond to your edit - you can't install Linux on your website. Web servers run on top of Linux rather than the other way around. Access to the command line (by ssh etc) has to be granted by your hosting provider. In one&one's case they grant access for only certain types of account (see Yitzchak's link below). – Paul Cager Oct 5 '11 at 0:34
Okay. That's what I was really looking for. As it so turns out, I don't have shell access. I only get sftp. Thanks. – A. Hayes Oct 5 '11 at 0:37
A great place to learn about this kind of thing is They sell cheap virtual computers with any OS and Webserver you want and provide awesome support. (I am not affiliated with them in any way other than having a couple professors who used their service to teach.) – Yitzchak Oct 5 '11 at 2:34
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Bash is a shell. It's a command-line environment, much like DOS (except written with the intent of being useful).

To use bash, you need it installed on a computer. You can install it on a Windows box, though I'm not sure you'd really want to. Nevertheless, it can be done via cygwin.


As Yitzchak has pointed out, Telnet is used to remotely access machines. It is widely accepted as insecure. It's a lot like VNC or RDP, but for command lines. If you want to access a command line remotely, you're best bet is to use an SSH service. SSH is widely accepted as reasonably secure.

Learning Bash

To get started learning bash, you should set up a Linux box somewhere. You could do this as a virtual machine hosted on your workstation. Alternatively, you could use a Linux machine hosted by somewhere else. Many web hosting services don't provide ssh access - so you may want to watch for that.

Here's a helpful introduction to simple bash commands. This looks okay too. Oh, and this as well.

Remote access over ssh

To connect to a Linux box using SSH, Windows users can use the outstanding application, Putty. If you're on OSX, then just open the Terminal application (Applications > Utilities > Terminal) and run the command "ssh [username]@[IP-address]".

If you're connecting to an Ubuntu Linux box, you may first need to install the ssh service. From the command line on an Ubuntu box, you can install ssh service with the command "sudo apt-get install ssh".


If you want to just run a local copy of Linux, I suggest you try Ubuntu. You can install it along side Windows (just burn the CD and insert it while running Windows, the installer will guide you). Or you could install it within a Virtual Machine using Virtual Box. Once you're feeling comfortable, you could explore running a web server with it using Apache or nginx. A good project would be to set up something like Wordpress as a first website on there. You can use a VM hosting service like Amazon EC2 or Linode to run a remote Linux server for you too.

Have fun! Welcome to actual computing.

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+1 for "like DOS only written with the intent of being useful" even if you're "competition" :) – Yitzchak Oct 5 '11 at 2:31

Telnet is a program that allows you to log in to a remote computer. It is insecure and most people use ssh (Secure Shell) to do the same thing. Most linux systems come with it and you can get free clients for Windows. When you log in, you are on the remote computer using its operating system, whatever that may be. Apache Server is software running on that computer that allows it to host web pages.

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I don't have a remote computer, but rather space I rented from 1&1. But could I get an operating system on that and how could I set up SSH? – A. Hayes Oct 5 '11 at 0:01
@A.Hayes You'll probably find this helpful. – Doc Oct 5 '11 at 0:20

Having web hosting doesn't normally get you shell access. Some providers will allow it ( is one that springs to mind) but most don't.

If you want to play around with Bash and so on, maybe you could use a VPS (a site such as could be used to find a cheap box).

Of course, if you just want to play around with bash, and you don't need it to be on the same server as your web site, you can install Linux on your PC...

I'd echo Yitzchak's comment that telnet is very insecure.

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