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CompTIA Linux+ XK0-005 - 3.1 - Shell Script Elements - Variables

Variables play a vital role in shell scripting, enabling you to store and manipulate data within your scripts. Understanding how to work with variables is essential for creating dynamic and reusable scripts in Linux. This guide will introduce you to shell scripting variables, their usage, and best practices.

What are Shell Scripting Variables?

In shell scripting, variables are used to store data that can be accessed and manipulated throughout the script. They provide a way to assign values to names and use those values in various operations. Variables can hold different types of data, such as strings, numbers, or even command outputs.

Variable Naming and Assignment

Here are some key points to remember when working with variables:

  • Naming conventions: Variables in shell scripts are case-sensitive and can consist of letters, digits, and underscores. They must start with a letter or an underscore.

  • Assignment: To assign a value to a variable, use the syntax variable_name=value. No spaces are allowed around the equal sign.

greeting="Hello, World!"

Variable Usage and Expansion

Once you've assigned values to variables, you can access and expand their contents in various ways:

  • Variable expansion: To access the value stored in a variable, prefix the variable name with a dollar sign $. This is called variable expansion.
echo "Hello, $name!"
  • Command substitution: You can also assign the output of a command to a variable using command substitution, denoted by $(command).
current_date=$(date +%Y-%m-%d)
echo "Today's date is $current_date."

Using Variables in Shell Scripts

Variables are commonly used in shell scripts to make them more dynamic and flexible. Here are some examples of how variables can be utilized:

  • User input: You can prompt the user for input and store it in a variable for further processing.
read -p "Enter your name: " name
echo "Welcome, $name!"
  • Mathematical operations: Variables can be used in mathematical calculations.
sum=$((x + y))
echo "The sum of $x and $y is $sum."


Shell scripting variables provide a powerful mechanism for storing and manipulating data within scripts. By understanding how to assign values, expand variables, and utilize them in various contexts, you can create dynamic and efficient scripts that automate tasks and adapt to different scenarios.

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