Another point of view

I have recently had yet another paradigm shift involving my use of the GNU/Linux operation system. Up until now I was treating it like a better, more stable version of Windows. At first I even tried to do everything graphically, shunning away from anyone who told me to use the command line. I figured they were just some diehards who felt that mouse users were below them and considered their advice to be one-sided.

Grugingly I moved to the command line when it was obvious I had to. Up2date, Redhat’s updater at the time of Fedora Core 1 was horrible and always caused my computer to freeze up. I had to go to the terminal and use yum. Yum usage and the little I had learned from my DOS days (how to change directories and other trivial tasks) were all that I did in the command line.

Wireless access on the laptop was the first thing to push me to the command line. Until Fedora Core 3, there wasn’t even a GUI for wireless controls that came bundled. So I was off to the terminal to type in commands to see which wireless routers were available (iwlist scanning) and which I was connected to (iwconfig). From there I began to use it more and more for deleting and moving files around. Sometimes it was just so much more efficient than using the GUI for that stuff.

Recently I neared the completion of my conversion over to the command line when I began launching files from the command line followed by &, allowing me to continue working. I used to think this was just a cool geeky thing to do – launch stuff from the command line while others pointed and clicked away. However, I quickly discovered two advantages. First of all, you don’t have to look through the menus to find the program, just type its name on the command line. If you only knew how much time I wasted sometimes looking for a program in Windows’ Start Menu. Second, by starting a program in the command line, you open up a world of debugging information. Nearly everything you do produces a prompt on the command line. For example, when I started amarok on my slow Pentium 2 machine it gave me this output: “amarok is taking a long time to load. You may want to check if there’s a problem.” If you just started the program from the icon, you’d never see that. It also has the added side effect of geekifying your desktop – if that’s your thing – by having a terminal window open with all this program information flashing by. It looks very “hacker movie.” 😀

Am I ready to completely move to the command line? No, I don’t think that’s a good thing. Too much in any direction is always a bad thing and there are definitely some advantages to doing things in GUIs, epsecially since I’m a visual person. But I have certainly learned the value of the command line and no longer scorn those who recommend it.