I found the following variations on the use of "command line" and "shell" in computing and wonder which are correct and how to use them appropriately.

  • Command line: is it "at the command line" or "on the command line"?
  • Shell: is it "in a shell", inside a shell", "at a shell" or "on a shell"?

My English teacher once jokingly said that with prepositions it's not only knowledge but sometimes also a good portion of luck for those who aren't native speakers.


One normally runs commands in a shell, not the others that you have listed.

However, if you had the shell’s process ID and sent that PID a signal of some sort, one could be said to have run the kill(1) command on that shell, in the sense of against it. Presumably the shell that you ran your kill in and the one you ran it on were different shells.

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