Why? Motivating the API

This lesson focuses on what you can achieve through the combination of the system calls you just learned.

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Of course, one big question you might have: why would we build such an odd interface to what should be the simple act of creating a new process? Well, as it turns out, the separation of fork() and exec() is essential in building a UNIX shell, because it lets the shell run code after the call to fork() but before the call to exec(); this code can alter the environment of the about-to-be-run program, and thus enables a variety of interesting features to be readily built.

The shell is just a user program.

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