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Thread: The shell way or the highway [long rant]

  1. #1
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    The shell way or the highway [long rant]

    This is a rant, and all and any responses are heartily encouraged, even if you will insult me, i'd really want to hear what you guys have to say, especially the veterans, if i may call them.

    I've been using ubuntu as my prime os for about a year now, and i know i'm still a noob about it. I used to ask questions on the forums when i got stuck (and i still do), and generous people would show me how to do things, and I would be grateful.

    Curiously, the solution was almost always something enclosed in <code>, involving running the terminal.

    I am still afraid of the terminal.

    I am 33, the first computer I had was a commodore 64, then came 128, and then I got an Amiga, and then a PC. Hell it was a 8088, and not a 8086 - woot!!

    When windows 3.1 began to came out as the next big thing, it honestly seemed awkward to me. Finally a use for the mouse, good thing, but wtf? DOS is faster and more direct and more accurate.

    We used to mock our friends who bought pcs with windows installed, because it was only a program, and in our wicked minds, if you couldn't install a program on a computer, you didn't deserve a computer. And to be fair, not everyone had a computer those days, at least not where I live.

    Anyways, my apologies for going down memory lane. My point was, it took me a while to get accustomed to windows after dos.

    Yet I'm still afraid of the terminal.

    When a noob like meself asks a question on the forums, it will most likely get a response. The solution will most likely involve running some commands over the terminal. It will most likely solve the problem in hand. This is certainly a good thing.

    But i keep recalling the old phrase - give a man a fish, you have fed him for today.. Teach a man to fish, and you have fed him for a lifetime.

    Like i said, i been happily using ubuntu for about a year now, but every time i ask a question on the forums, and someone responds with "wget this and that" and "tar -xzwf" - i get the chills..

    You are very welcome to point out that I haven't read the man pages about tar, but i am a lazy guy, and after a year of going solo on ubuntu, i still don't know what -xzfw means. I'm not even sure if i remember that right.

    I do acknowledge the fact that guiding some helpless noob like me is far easier through a series of shell commands, compared to posting in screenshots- doing it the lame way.

    It also ascertains a distinction among "classes" of ubuntu (or linux) users - if you know the shell, you're in.

    If you are afraid of the shell (like meself, not because I now feel more comfortable with a graphic environment, but because I feel less comfortable with typing in commands i dont know what they mean) - well, dunno, you're afraid of the shell.

    Basically what i mean to say is - when you provide a bunch of terminal commands to solve whatever the question is, you're not really helping, unless you explain what those commands do, and what the other options are.

    Just me rant ..

    Not sure if i could get my point through, but anyways, please do respond.. Ciao

  2. #2
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    Re: The shell way or the highway [long rant]

    Quote Originally Posted by BarisBlaq View Post
    If you are afraid of the shell (like meself, not because I now feel more comfortable with a graphic environment, but because I feel less comfortable with typing in commands i dont know what they mean) - well, dunno, you're afraid of the shell.
    You should be afraid of typing in commands you don't understand. But if you aren't gonna endeavour to understand what you are typing, you're right, you shouldn't be using the shell. Or Linux, for the time being.
    Quote Originally Posted by Legendary_Bibo View Post
    I tried, and by tried I mean I did a half a**ed google search, and by half a**ed google search I mean I typed "eread pdg"

  3. #3
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    Re: The shell way or the highway [long rant]

    kk thx

  4. #4
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    Re: The shell way or the highway [long rant]

    I can understand your feelings, and I support them to a certain extent.

    the big problem is that of support.
    we are here of our own free will answering peoples questions as we ask our own, primarily for fun.

    we have a thriving ecosystem with many options for any given problem. this however measn that most peoples boxes are not the same. they may run kde, or xfce, or gnome, or one of the many different desktop environments available, or even just a command shell. as such, the buttons and front-end applets are going to be different for all of us. the command line is the same however. if I tell you to open software center and search for pidgin, and you tell me that you are a kde user, then no one has gotten anywhere. if I tell you to open a terminal however, and enter 'sudo apt-get install pidgin' tehn I can be reasonably assured that that will work on any ubuntu-based system.

    the other big one, is that I am too lazy to go to the trouble of installing software x, which I don't need, so that i can take screen shots of every click, crop and save them, annotate them, and then upload them, just so some person on the other side of the internet can avoid the cli. my advice is free (with no warentees) but it is not professionally polished.

    in fact I can't even tell you how to open synaptic with less typing than the shell line above (System -> Administration -> synaptic package manager). so now I have wasted my time, and your time, and given an incomplete answer to the query.

    so no, it's not about elitism, or trendiness, or any thing but simple logistics.

    btw, very few people think about what -xvfg mean, they are just always used when un-compressing stuff. what you are describing sound like instructions for compiling somthing. the problem is that most folks don;t care to navigate in a cli (go to the folder you downloaded the file to) so the poster is just giving instructions that eliminate that potentially sticky-wiket. wget downloads to the dir that the cli prompt points to, so it is always there waiting for the next command with no other action. the poster could have said "download this to a directory, then right click to extract. then open a terminal and navigate to whatever directory you download to (that ambiguity is teh problem here), and type 'sudo make && sudo make install'.

    most cli instructions are formulated so that you can just paste them straight into the terminal. there is just no way to do that with gui instructions.

    good luck and have fun,
    Last edited by doas777; November 11th, 2009 at 12:23 AM.

  5. #5
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    Wink Re: The shell way or the highway [long rant]

    Heh heh. I remember when I first started working on UNIX and, to edit a simple text file, I would ftp it to my Windows machine, edit it with Notepad, then ftp it back to UNIX. Now, after almost 30 years UNIX experience, vi is probably my favorite editor of all.

    So, I can understand your fear of the command line. It is powerful, but some people don't want the power. They want to be able to see what is going on at every step and be dead certain it is right before taking the next step. Whereas CLI people will add options and redirect and pipe and build up a single command that will do the whole thing quickly and efficiently.

    It is just two ways of doing things. If you put your mind to it, you can learn to do it. But if you don't even want to do it....

    Tim

  6. #6
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    Re: The shell way or the highway [long rant]

    Strongly disagree with alphaniner...

    For 99% of the things we advise people to use a terminal command for there is an equivalent, and equally valid gui method.

    e.g.
    Code:
    apt-get install xxxxx
    is equivalent to opening synaptic package manager (System-Administration-Synaptic) searching for the package xxxxx marking it for installation and hitting install.

    Code:
    chmod a+x filename
    Open File manager, navigate to file, right click and open properties, then change permissions on the permissions tab to allow all users to execute the file.

    No doubt there are other better examples, but those two popped to mind.

    The reason people give advice using the CLI is indicated by the above...its less effort, and unfortunately the nature of a forum of people giving advice for free, is that people tend to revert to whatever is quickest and easiest for them...not what is definitively the most educational thing for the other person.

    Nonetheless, if you are willing to investigate the system properly, you will find that you can achieve just about everything you need without ever opening a terminal window.

    That being said, it is far easier to understand your system if you have a basic grasp of the command line, as its logic lies behind the way things like launchers work, along with lots of other bits of the system.

    All in all, I agree with your rant within reason...it would be better if people always explained the cli command they present, and ideally explained the Gui method too, but in reality it won't happen...so I'm afraid you'll have to find out for yourself.

    So search on google, read the man pages, and if necessary ask in the forum..someone will tell you what any given command does. In addition you can always ask if anyone knows of the gui equivalent...

    P.S. as a general rule for nearly all archives I just right click and select to decompress them (can't remember the exact menu item - but its pretty obvious). It is very rare that I use tar -xvzf, in which, by the way, the xvz and f flags mean eXtract, Verbose logging, unZip, from File.
    Last edited by issih; November 11th, 2009 at 12:36 AM.

  7. #7
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    Re: The shell way or the highway [long rant]

    this thread should really be in the testimonials section =/

  8. #8
    wojox is offline I Ubuntu, Therefore, I Am
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    Re: The shell way or the highway [long rant]

    You don't always know what flavor of Ubuntu a person is using so you don't know what gui to tell them. Different stuff in Kubuntu than Ubuntu. The terminal always works for any version.

  9. #9
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    Re: The shell way or the highway [long rant]

    Quote Originally Posted by issih View Post
    Strongly disagree with alphaniner...

    For 99% of the things we advise people to use a terminal command for there is an equivalent, and equally valid gui method.
    +1

    I'm not afraid of the terminal - I ran Gentoo as my main OS for 18 months - but it makes me despair when I see people respond to support requests with a load of terminal gibberish that could be implemented with a couple of mouse clicks. Sometimes the GUI is quicker.

    Please do not PM me about your forum account unless you have been asked to. The correct place to contact an admin about your account is here.

  10. #10
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    Re: The shell way or the highway [long rant]

    Definitely 99% of the time I tell someone to run a command in the terminal it is because it's the best way to have them do exactly what needs to be done, and get exactly the right information back from them. Rather than trying to describe to them what they should click on, what part of the screen they should copy and paste, etc. I'd definitely rather tell someone to "sudo apt-get install blah" rather than have them clicking around starting synaptic, searching for the right package, marking it for installation, installing, etc.

    I even do this for Windows users. If I want someone to check their IP address for example, I still find it much easier to have them open the command prompt and run ipconfig, rather than fiddling around with the control panels.
    Sierra square, delta square...

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