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Thread: In defence of the Command Line Interface

  1. #1
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    In defence of the Command Line Interface

    This post really is addressed to Windows users having a hard time coming to terms with Ubuntu.
    The command line interface (CLI, the ability to write commands directly into a terminal window, accessed for example via Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal) is a concept that pre-dates Windows as it was the main means of interaction with DOS or CP/M computers - here I show my age.

    Linux and Ubuntu have maintained the CLI as a means of interacting with the computer. At least one generation of computer users have managed to communicate with their computers exclusively through Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) as provided by Microsoft and Apple - by pointing the cursor onto icons or keywords and by clicking the mouse. These GUIs have indeed made it simple for everyone to deal with computers, including pre-school infants. However much has been lost in terms of understanding how computers work. Indeed, many people don't care to know, and as long as they can do their job through good use of their software applications, they do not need to know.

    However, for the curious, the CLI gives an insight into the operating system. It is rewarding, even if the Linux commands take a while to learn. The result is a more creative interaction with the computer and a sense of being in control.

    Without a CLI, it is tedious to explain to a GUI user how to repair, modify or improve their computer, whereas a CLI command can be easily cut and pasted into a Terminal with immediate results. Anyone can easily and precisely report on the status of their computer by pasting the output of a CLI command. Communication between computer users is greatly improved.

    The main point of this post is the following. Many praise Ubuntu for the great user community providing support and education. This is not found in GUI communities. I believe that the thriving forums in Linux and Ubuntu which give great depth to the support each one of us benefits from is largely due to the existence of the CLI, which makes communication so much easier.
    If Ubuntu is gaining popularity, it is to a large extent due to the existence of our on-line communities. Their responsiveness, expertise and enthusiasm owes much to the CLI.
    Last edited by frncz; May 5th, 2010 at 04:40 PM.

  2. #2
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    Re: In defence of the Command Line Interface

    Most computer users (me and 95% of this world) dont like to use the CLI cuz we want to use our computers to accomplish a task quickly with the mouse. We dont want to learn whats inside our OS and how it works. We just want our computers to work.
    I find the GUI more accessible and easy to use because I just point and click on an icon and my tasks are done with minimal effort etc. OTOH on a CLI you have to type, type and type!!! (which is not bad if you have the time and patience)
    I think the GUI is easier for the average user cuz people dont want to memorize commands to use their computer. people have more important stuff to memorize than computer commands. Plus the CLI displays some weird error messengers that dont make any sense.
    Plus the computer was made to be super easy for everyone to use. And I really dont see any point of going back to the CLI days. Home PC users escaped from the CLI in 1995 and they dont want to go back to 1990s again cuz the time goes forward not backwards.
    With the GUI we are going forward. Some people say the GUI is bloated or its not easy to use etc. I think some of them are right cuz I find the Linux CLI slightly easier than Windows CLI (which I rarely use). However I find GUI easier than CLI all the way!!!

    On the other hand, I like pasta you like fish....so everyone likes different things...and we should NOT push our choices to others...cuz thats gonna hurt their feelings, make them feel bad or even attack us and its not right.

    In case if you are wondering about my username.... its not from the CLI, but from virtualbox's sudoers group. Plus sudoer541 sounds kinda cute and trendy....just a bit...


    btw that was a great thread, and remember....we all love you!!!

    edit: you cant copy and paste commands if you dont have internet connection..or dont know this forum.
    Last edited by sudoer541; May 5th, 2010 at 07:46 PM.

  3. #3
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    Re: In defence of the Command Line Interface

    CLI is MUCH easier and faster to copy/paste instructions and then report the result back
    CLI is a lot faster than posting screenshots or writing long essays describing GUI screens
    CLI works pretty much the same across desktop environments (gnome, kde, fluxbox etc)
    CLI works the same regardless of your OS language (ever tried fixing a windows machine of a Japanase co worker? I have!)

    CLI works even when the GUI doesnt !

    CLI is not intuitive at all and sucks if you have no idea what you are doing and you want to discover stuff on your own. Use a GUI for that!
    Last edited by P4man; May 5th, 2010 at 07:59 PM.

  4. #4
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    Re: In defence of the Command Line Interface

    I am a little different. I work with Redhat at work through putty (remote terminals) all day. I have only recently switched to ubuntu at home...couple of months now I reckon. I used to use windows.

    The command line is in my opinion a fantastic feature as the OP says. It enables us to share command line fixes in one short line rather than a series of screen shots and go to this menu...click whatever...then click whatever. I fixed my boot splash yesterday with a couple of keystrokes. It was great.

    I am only 33 but I remember my first dos puter. Windows 3.1 was going around but we still had to launch games (Wolfenstien anyone?) via dos. I used to say back then that windows was for people that didnt know how to use their computers......I still say that

    Anywho the cli is great and tbh as much as I love ubuntu; having tried all the other major distros (even the ubuntu spinnoffs) and making it my os of choice over anything in the market I would leave it in a flash if they somehow disabled my access to the cli.

    If someone had an issue I could simply wright them a small script to fix it for them if need be. I am not THAT great on linux. At work I start stop procs...write short start stop scripts, look through logs and edit config files. This is very basic linux in my opinion.

    To finish this all off if your really good at windows you can look at starting pay of around 30k a year fixing peoples PCs. If your really good at linux you can look at double that working on servers.

    Real important money making software always runs on nix. Windows is just a means of getting to truly powerful machines through the.....CLI.

  5. #5
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    Re: In defence of the Command Line Interface

    OS X has command line. Last time I had to use command line was on a Mac. Therefore command line must be the new greatest innovation

  6. #6
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    Re: In defence of the Command Line Interface

    Lastest creation of Microsoft uses CLI, its CLI sucks very well, Hyper-V
    So, no Microsoft users complaining about CLI please.

  7. #7
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    Re: In defence of the Command Line Interface

    i use shells in windows and linux every day of my life...including sundays...if my computer is on and im in front of it there is more times than not a shell window is open
    Ubuntu 14.04 LTS / E6750 @ 3.52GHz / Zalman 9500 / GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3L / Mushkin Silver/Blackline 4GB DDR2800 / MSI 8600GT GPU / OCZ 120GB SSD / Antec P180B
    Ubuntu User 31267

  8. #8
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    Re: In defence of the Command Line Interface

    I can understand very well that new linux users "complain". You make them do things they dont understand, not even remotely, that they can not reproduce without just mindlessly copy/pasting (its not like they can try again the next day and remember what to type), they cant try or think of small variants or alternatives, there is no help menu. Its almost like handing over your pc and not being allowed to watch while someone else tries fixing it, while the new users wants to learn and understand what you are doing and he has no clue what "sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg" is even about.

    So yes, it IS intimidating,

    Its just the easiest and most universal way to provide (and get) help.

  9. #9
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    Re: In defence of the Command Line Interface

    Ubuntu is getting to a point where you dont need it nearly as often as say 7.xx or 8.xx, but it's still quite useful for those who know what they are doing.
    Ubuntu 14.04 LTS / E6750 @ 3.52GHz / Zalman 9500 / GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3L / Mushkin Silver/Blackline 4GB DDR2800 / MSI 8600GT GPU / OCZ 120GB SSD / Antec P180B
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  10. #10
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    Re: In defence of the Command Line Interface

    Yes CLI is faster for some tasks, not all. I can't edit photos with ease from the CLI. Yes I can write bash scripts. Yes I can use the CLI for virtually any task. The CLI has it's place but I don't feel less of a Linux user for not having open 24/7 every time I login.
    Want an alternative to 99% of Windows applications?
    http://www.osalt.com/

    "Dude, real programmers compile" - Plato 428BC

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