Should the Linux command line be deep sixed?

Some say that one of the reasons why Linux fails in the mass market is its heavy dependency on performing complex tasks via the command line. However Windows have command line to but only and mostly used by the power users.
Should Linux concentrate on its GUI rather than command line?
Full article from Tech NewsWorld By Katherine Noyes :


  • Linux, like Windows, needs to strive to achieve the balance of power and usability that OSX has. There will always be a case for a robust CLI for advanced functions (especially since Linux has poor cloud based profile options – and building a fresh system with your favorite apps can be done with a single command)
    The key is to make it unnecessary without removing it. It adds no overhead and it’s completely mature. I don’t see a case for killing it.

  • No it would break to many of the advantages on Linux/Unix if I wanted a fisher price computer id buy an ipad.

  • At least I can reach the advanced features of Linux through the command line or the config files. With Windows I’d have to rely on the registry from some things! Yuck.

  • Preposterous idea. It would eliminate the usefulness of Linux to its early adopters, who created it as a powerful platform for their “command line” activities.
    If CLI were eliminated, then I, for one, would stop using Linux, in favour of one of the other Unix-like systems that didn’t have the Excessive Community of Morons that would be a necessary pre-requisite for such a change.

  • I think a lot of people are missing out on the modern Linux platform. Should Linux move away from CLI? Absolutely not. However, I’ve seen many front ends being created. Ubuntu does an amazing job of integrating pieces with a GUI. In fact, you hardly ever have to use a CLI on Ubuntu if you don’t want to.
    Should Linux throw away CLI? NO! Should more applications have a GUI front-end be available to access CLI functions in a nice way? It’s not a bad idea, but I would maintain that a lot of applications have a front end already.

  • I’m old enough to remember command line only mainframe programming and I see the GUI as a user friendly way to emulate the command line. You can’t get rid of CLI because command interface with the machine is essential. Besides, there are some tasks that are quicker with the command line, and this is just as true for MS Windows as it is for Linux.
    With the advent of modern Linux distros like Fedora and Ubuntu and the associated GUIs, there is not a heavy dependency on command line anymore and to say so is just plain wrong.
    At the last Microsoft place that I worked, my team leader used the command line extensively for various tasks, whereas the people I know that use Linux wouldn’t dream of using the command line. So, both the CLI and GUI have their place regardless of OS.
    To recap, you don’t have to be a CLI power user to use Linux, ‘cos there are plenty of GUIs around.

  • That’s not only preposterous, the mere asking of the question is, well, questionable.
    Perhaps non-unix people don’t quite get the idea that any unix-like command line is also the primary scripting language. You have the full power of the shell right at the command line, and the shell gives you a command line interface for typing commands and interacting with them for free.
    BTW, Apple _added_ a full unix-based command line interface to OS X and I think almost everyone would agree it only added to what OX 9 once was limited to offering.

  • To my mind, one of the things that makes Windows a usable platform is Cygwin – a freeware package that allows me to run a Bash shell, with Perl and all the other regular unix command-line tools.
    So no, I don’t think the Linux command line should be eliminated. It is essential for the sophisticated use of computers.

  • Bad idea indeed. Talking from a user point of view.
    For example, consider the “apt-get” or “aptitude” command in Debian/Ubuntu, and “zypper” in OpenSUSE, to install anything available in online repos, e.g. “sudo zypper install openoffice”.
    Its powerful, simple and easy. It has been years, I didn’t insert any software DVD or CD into my drive. Its just a simple example.
    Beside this particular example. Its a lot more powerful, usable, virus-free, friendly, stable, reliable. The Linux console is powerful and adding value to it, indeed. And yes, you don’t have to use it, if choose not to. I found KDE is much more friendly then Windows interface. Gnome is good too.
    In fact, my father disposed Windows off this time, when I introduced him to my favourite distro, OpenSUSE. My wife also uses Linux at home, same distro. And both of them are quite comfortable with the KDE GUI. They are happy to press Alt+F2 and write the program name to run e.g. Firefox. In case, if it doesn’t run for some reason, unlikely though, my wife type the same thing on console, copy the error, and paste it to Google to find the solution. Beside this you can also go to program like you do in Windows and click the thing. My father prefer this way.
    And a sexy 3D compositioning is coool. Bottom line is, its no more just for-hackers-by-hackers thingie. Just wait and watch, I would say.

  • The command line ? There is no such thing, there are a number of shells (bash, tcsh, ksh, etc. etc.) to write OS jobs in i.e. scripts. Scripting is something that absolutely no spiffy front end can successfully do, and is absolutely essential in large scale environments.
    Windows now has actionscript, a viable if finnicky scripting tool. Do you thing that a dollar craving M$oft would go into such effort if it was not worth it ? As a matter of fact if one needs to do a bit more than play movies and shoot aliens on theri system, you need a scripting system.
    Maybe not you …

  • Bill D'Camp

    I do not believe that retaining the command line interface is the reason that Linux has failed to replace Windows in the marketplace. The reason is much simpler than that, if consumers could go to any computer retailer and routinely purchase a computer with Linux already installed and relatively easy instructions to begin using it, I believe that you would see more consumer adoption.
    The vast majority of consumers do not want to risk “messing up” their computer by installing another operating system that they do not understand. To them there is too much risk that they will cause issues with the system’s warranty and have to spend a lot to get it back in working order.

  • Never, the power of the command line options are what give Linux its power. Microsoft is headed in that direction, look at Powershell and their “core” Windows Server platform – they finally realize the power of the command line and are following Linux back down this path.
    What you will find with many of the 2008/2010 products is they will rely heavily on Powershell, not limited Gui applications.

  • Well, to a large extent, understanding the command line is part of what differentiates true geeks from everyone else. It’s a cultural marker and Thomas Scoville once wrote eloquently about how words differentiated unix people from picture oriented Windows people.
    Enjoy the read.

  • I think one of the problem Linux has is that there are TOO MANY CLIs, and frankly speaking the sintax of commands is too old-fashioned for me. Anyway you cannot get rid of a CLI in a real OS.
    But Linux cannot go mainstream without a REAL gui (and only one 🙂 ) for common user that hide the OS complexity (like OSX as someone pointed out…)

  • The sad aspect of the Linux commandline is that it allows programmers of otherwise excellent programs to be lazy. Instead of coding comprehensive GUI controls, they can leave the job half-finished, and hope the users will delve into configuring it via command line tools.
    That’s fine, if your target market are people fluent in such techniques, but don’t get upset if you find you can’t break into the mainstream because your customers can’t install and configure your software.
    This is then exacerbated by a general reluctance to provide clear and comprehensive documentation and support forums that are aimed at helping new users, not just power users who have grown up with the evolution of the program.

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