The Korn Shell History - Shell Scripting

The original Korn shell was developed by David Korn while working at AT&T Bell Labs in the 1980s. David developed the Korn shell (you can probably guess where its name comes from) to be a next-generation programming shell, incorporating the best features of the Bourne shell and the best features of the C shell. The Korn shell quickly became known as a programmer’s shell. It supports advanced programming features missing from the Bourne and C shells, including associative arrays and floating-point arithmetic.

The original Korn shell was controlled by ATT as a proprietary shell up until 2000. Since then it has been released as open source software. There are two separate threads of the original Korn shell:

  • ksh88
  • ksh93

Most Korn shell implementations (including those found in Linux distributions) use the ksh93 shell. The exception is Sun Solaris. Sun uses a modified version of the ksh88 shell, which is somewhat different from the ksh93 shell. Because the Korn shell used in Linux distributions uses the ksh93 shell, that’s the shell that’s covered in this section.

There is one other version of the Korn shell you may run into in the Linux environment. During the time when the original Korn shell was proprietary software, a public domain version of theKorn shell (called the pdksh shell) was developed. The pdksh shell has most of the same features as the ksh88 shell, but it is missing the advanced mathematical features found in the ksh93 shell


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