Open Video Workbook

Resources: Using Command Line

Advantages of Using Commands

Many people who give the command line a try are so amazed by its possibilities that they do not even want to go back to a Graphical User Interface(GUI)! Why? Well, in brief, the command line offers the following main advantages over common graphical software:

  • Flexibility-With graphical programs, you sometimes hit a limit; you just can't do what you want or you need to find cumbersome work-arounds to program limits. With the command line, you can combine commands to yield a virtually infinite range of new and interesting functions. By combining commands creatively, you can make the command line do exactly what you want; it puts you in control of your computer.
  • Reliability-Graphical programs are often immature or even unstable. In contrast, most of the tools that the command line offers are highly reliable. One of the reasons for this reliability is their maturity; the oldest command line programs have been around since the late 1970s. This means that these command lines have been tested for over three decades. They also tend to work the same way across different operating systems, unlike most graphical tools. If you want a Swiss Army knife you can rely on, the command line is for you.
  • Speed. Fancy graphics consume a lot of your hardware's resources, often resulting in slowness or instability. The command line, on the other hand, uses the computer's resources much more sparingly, leaving memory and processing power for the tasks that you actually want to accomplish. The command line is also intrinsically faster; instead of clicking through long chains of graphical menus, you can type commands in a dozen or so keystrokes, and often apply them to multiple files or other objects. If you can type fast, this will enable you to drastically increase your productivity.
  • Experience. Using the command line is a great learning experience. When you use the command line, you communicate with your computer more directly than with the graphical programs, thus learning a lot about its inner workings. Using the command line on a regular basis is the way to becoming a GNU/Linux guru.
  • Fun. Have you ever wanted to be like those cool computer hackers who can make a GNU/Linux machine do things that you have not even dreamed of? Once you learn to use this powerful tool, you will find yourself doing funny and interesting stuff that you have never imagined.


  • This chapter is taken from the Floss manuals guide Introduction to the Command Line. 1


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