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Re: Working from the "complicated" and "archaic" console.

  • Subject: Re: Working from the "complicated" and "archaic" console.
  • From: Roy Schestowitz <newsgroups@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 19 Feb 2006 04:12:35 +0000
  • Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy
  • Organization: schestowitz.com / MCC / Manchester University
  • References: <pan.2006.>
  • Reply-to: newsgroups@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • User-agent: KNode/0.7.2
__/ [Liam Slider] on Sunday 19 February 2006 03:49 \__

> There's been a lot of bashing of the command line and the console lately,
> as if it's this evil, archaic, and hideously complex thing. Well, I've
> decided to spend some time there. With the exception of a few little apps
> (like Pan, because frankly, I don't want to lose track of what I have and
> haven't read on usenet. And a few games and Firefox for a few online
> forums only. And KPPP since it's simple and I already have it configured,
> besides I don't know of an easy to configure console app that's quite
> compatible with my online service) I will be living from the console for a
> while. And what I do in the gui....well, my gui will be simplified, just
> X11 with twm. Login is no longer graphical, but text only with X11 started
> manually. Can't get much simpler than that.

Save yourself the trouble. I was using TWM for a couple of days (not out of
choice) and it makes work rather sluggish.

> Why put myself through this "torture"? Simple, to show that it isn't
> really all that hard, and I can do most things without it being
> complicated. So far? I've learned the wonders of screen, a nice little
> util that works like a wm, but for consoles. I can open new "screens" at
> will and open apps in them, I can open them and close them while running
> an existing application, list which ones are open and what's running in
> each, and switch between them at ease. Most of the basic functionality of
> a wm without the GUI. Nice. Of course, I start the first one with "mc"
> (Midnight Commander), a fantastic console based file manager/shell. I'm
> greeted by the warm blue glow of the screen and navigate using the arrow
> keys to my Music directory where I "click" (hit Enter) on an MP3....screen
> goes black, text scrolls up....giving the song's tag info, the length of
> play, and the time played....and the music starts playing out of my
> speakers. Some nice Blues music. I spawn another screen, and open
> lynx...hideous, so I urpmi links, much better browser....and I start
> browsing the web...while my music is playing. Occasionally I flip back to
> the mp3 screen to see how much time is left, and then head back to
> browsing. No problem, a couple of keystrokes, and the instructions are all
> there anyway. Music stops playing....so back I head, to find midnight
> commander is back, so I navigate to my video directory and select
> one....and mplayer starts right up playing the video right on the screen.
> So I head to the subdirectory I keep certain documents in, and pull one up
> for a little technical reading. No need for a GUI for multimedia or basic
> web research, or for simple file reading...and can do them at the same
> time, from one login session. Next....head to twm and start up pan and
> Firefox, check on some forums and usenet...and post this. I could easily
> do both of those in console too....but prefer the GUI. Oh, and I flip back
> and start up another song (Two Tickets to Paradise), just for the hell of
> it.
> Complicated? No, not really. Damn simple. The unix world had "user
> friendly" figured out before GUIs got into common use. Hell, if anything
> I'm doing a lot of things faster. And I'm *used* to the GUI. I'll be here
> for a while, trying out new old things, just as an experiment.

The bare command line is good for particular things, though scripting what
you do in a command-line session is often the better way. GUI's are an
abstraction layer to a command line (or equivalent). Choosing to work
exclusively from the command line is often analogous to programming in
assembly code, only far less radical.

The command line is particularly useful for features that would have
cluttered or complicated a GUI too much, repeatability and scriptability
included. Packages like Photoshop attempt to bridge that gap, it's worth

Another thing about the command line is conciseness and compactness. No GUI
can ever replace that.

> The important thing to remember is that the console can be as easy to use
> and as capable as the GUI, you can do pretty much everything in it. Which
> means that old "junk" hardware that isn't even capable of *running* X11
> and modern windowmanagers, or don't run them well at all, can run very
> well indeed and be quite capable machines even now. Maybe some use can be
> put to pratically antique hardware eh folks?

It's rarely worth the electricity consumption though.

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