GUI vs. CLI: the more you look less you see

With the advent of very polished desktops environments like gnome, cinnamon, unity and KDE, the importance of the command line interface in Linux has not yet diminished one bit. Many new users coming to Linux tend to abhor the use of the command line especially those coming from OSes like windows where the command prompt (cmd) is hardly visited let alone used. In fact many new converts to Linux have returned to windows because of this issue, to show how serious it is.

Every Linux user is free to use the system any how he/she so please. But sooner rather than later, every Linux user is faced with a reality where the solution to a problem would often begin with opening the terminal, when those fanciful icons can nothing to help you. So it would be advisable to embrace the CLI concept early on to make Linux enjoyable for you – the earlier the better – because the CLI is built into the heart of Linux itself even though almost everything could also be done in the GUI. Nobody was born with computer proficiency, it hard to be learned, if you could learn how to use the GUI then it’s also possible to learn how to use the CLI.

Even though the GUI is meant to be intuitive, that is you could easily figure out what is what when carrying out everyday tasks, on the other hand the CLI is not alien and so should not scare you. This is because the command line have some advantages over the GUI. Here are some of them;

  1. It is faster: because the CLI uses less hardware resources, like memory and processing powers, it executes what you want to accomplish faster. And also a single command can be applied to multiple files at once instead of continually wade through a series of graphic icons and menus. And if you’re a fast typer the speed of entering commands would greatly increased exponentially, so would your productivity.

  1. It is Flexible: there is a limit to the stuffs you can do within the GUI, and it becomes clumsy to work with when that limit is reached. But with the command line the opportunities are endless; commands can be combine with other commands to achieve what could not be done with a single command – leaving you with unlimited power.

  1. It gives more experience: there is great learning in using the command line. It gives you the closest proximity of communication between you and the computer hardware that make you to know the inner workings of Linux than the GUI.

  1. It is repeatable: the command line saves you from the constant hassle of point and clicks of menu icons that you would be entangled in if you want to carry out repetitive tasks. In the command running the same task is almost instant – no need to trace your steps. And another beautiful aspect of this is that the command line save the history of commands you have entered, so it’s just a matter of going back to a particular command in the history and hitting ENTER.

  1. It is consistent: commands are generally the same even across different distros, for example the cat command is the same and would perform the same function on all distros be it Fedora, Debian or Ubuntu. That cannot be said for the GUI that varies between desktop managers, let alone distros. For instance, it take different numbers of steps (clicking and selecting) to change the brightness of a desktop in fedora, mint and Ubuntu.

  1. Automatic scripting: with the command line commands could be stored in script files that are executed instead of typing a lengthy command. And these scripts can also be schedule to execute at a particular time or date or at the occurrence of a specific event on your computer.

And so many more…

So the fear of the commands should not prevent you from the greatest experience and learning you could derive from Linux. And also take note that even the most proficient Linux users don’t know everything or the commands in the Linux manual, but there are basic commands that everyone should remember and that would prove valuable in your Linux journey.

Happy linux’NG!




Chief Editor/Founder at FossNaija
A Linux enthusiast with a focus on enriching the Nigeria Linux experience and keeping a keen eye on Ubuntu and other Foss related developments.
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