Command line

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What is the Command Line?

"Command Line" simply means that one interacts with the computer via the keyboard through typed commands. This action is done in a terminal screen. Many older Windows users might remember the days of the early DOS computers. That environment was a command line environment. Unix users of old used nothing but a Command Line Interface. Today, many users of Linux and some Macintosh and Windows enthusiasts still use the command line environment for a variety of reasons.

  • CLI = Command Line Interface
  • GUI = Graphical User Interface

These two ways of interacting with one's computer are often thought of as opposites or at least exclusive of each other. However, in modern operating systems, one can have both simultaneously, with any number of terminal windows surrounded by GUI applications. Various scripting languages and utilities such as QuickSilver give even casual users the ability to bridge the CLI and GUI in new and creative ways.

Why use the Command Line?

Describing the attraction and benefit of the command line environment is rather difficult. It has something to do with the simplicity and efficiency of typing exactly what you want for an exact purpose that you desire. This mode of interaction is much different from a GUI interface in which one tries clicking a box of some sort in hopes that it will do what you want. Command line environments are deliberate and analytical; GUI environments are investigative and intuitive.

The simple, austere nature of the Command Line has its aesthetic appeal as well, with none of the "bells and whistles" typical to the GUI -- which, for users trying to minimize distractions, is definitely a bonus.

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