Why are user accounts on a remote server called shell account , remote account sounds like a more intuitive name

what is the reason behind this very unintuitive name ???

  • 1
    Because you login to a shell on the remote machine...
    – jasonwryan
    Feb 19 '14 at 1:30

The term 'remote account' doesn't tell me anything about the nature of the account. I know it is on a remote machine, but that is about it.

Could it be for email? for printing? for mysql management? is it an RDP login? a samba share?

You see, remote is not descriptive or intuitive at all. The term shell refers to the command interpreter you use when you login to a unix or linux machine via a TTY or open a terminal from X, or remotely via telnet or ssh.

Examples of shells:

  • sh - Bourne shell
  • bash - the Bourne again shell
  • ksh - Korn shell
  • csh - C shell
  • zsh - Z shell
  • pdksh - public domain Korn shell
  • ash - Almquist shell
  • dash - Debian Almquist shell

The sh in each of these programs names stands for shell. So, if I have a unix account that grants me access to a shell, the most descriptive, intuitive name I can come up with is shell account.


Per the Wikipedia page on the subject:

shell account - A shell account is a user account on a remote server, traditionally running under the Unix operating system, which gives access to a shell via a command-line interface protocol such as telnet or SSH. ...

So the fact that it utilizes a "shell" such as Bash, Bourne, etc. is why.

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