Abstract: The Unix shell is a powerful, ubiquitous, and reviled tool for managing computer systems. The shell has been largely ignored by academia and industry. While many replacement shells have been proposed, the Unix shell persists. Two re- cent threads of formal and practical research on the shell enable new approaches. We can help manage the shell’s es- sential shortcomings (dynamism, power, and abstruseness) and address its inessential ones. Improving the shell holds much promise for development, ops, and data processing.