Friday, August 15, 2008

Free with Command Line on a PC: A Time Machine to Take you Back to 1971

Do you love Linux? Do you use it on your PC? If you do, you must have adopted the Command Line Interface (CLI) too. It's kind of sad that whatever Linux has to force upon its users has to be accepted. Some of these users who develop an unnatural love for Linux just for the sake of being different also start propagating and popularising the loony idea, just to make sure they aren't shunned by other people; and that's how the Linux propaganda works. So back to the CLI on PCs. Okay, a reality-check. We're living in the year 2008. While software corporations are designing more feature-rich, easy to use GUI-based applications for the PC user, linux propagandists are comfortable using the CLI. It's human nature and more intuitive to respond to graphical output by triggering events such as clicks. It speeds up tasks, which is probably not what your neighbourhood linux propagandist told you. He probably told you that doing click.... click.... click.... is slower than typing:

sudo apt-get install bullshitte-1
(Entering a password)
(Waiting for some time)
(Entering Y or N)


Users of PC versions of Linux distros tell you this because there aren't alternatives that are good enough to replace their old CLI method. Synaptic and its likes are the only steps that they seem to have taken, and they too show package listings as if they're doing a big favour by looking for them in the first place.
Let's do a comparative check on relative usabilities of both interfaces. Let's say I want to install Google Earth on my PC. On Windows, I visit, download the setup file on to my hard drive, open the .exe file, click install, next.... next.... next.... and I'm done; I enjoy looking at the Eiffel Tower from 50 miles above.
On Ubuntu Linux, I visit, download the setup file on to my hard drive, open the .bin file and wonder why it doesn't install. I then google the query: installing google earth on ubuntu and submit it to ubuntu forums. I get bombarded by many results and finally find one, which tells me to fo the following:

Open a terminal and change to the directory where the installer downloaded to. If it’s on your desktop you can use this command:
cd ~/Desktop

Change the permissions on the installer so you can run it:
chmod +x GoogleEarthLinux.bin

Run the installer as the root user:
sudo ./GoogleEarthLinux.bin

The installer dialog will open. The default install paths work fine. Click Begin Install.

Once the installation is finished you can click Start to launch Google Earth.

Want to add Google Earth to the Application menu? Open the menu editor in System->Preferences->Main Menu.

Select the submenu you want to use and click New Item. The command value needs to be googleearth.

You can now launch Google Earth from the Application menu.

Wow! Did you hear that? A 10 minute type-out on the command line, where a user is prone to make typos, which irritate him, and then end up with an install that doesn't even put the application in a menu for him. He has to manually add it through a launcher.

So what if usability is sacrificed for inflating a little linux ego?At least I'm LEET now. I am a geek, and can use the Command Line. Awesome!

Today, I wanted to edit my GRUB configuration file. In Linux, it's a protected file. So the only way to run it was, you guessed it, command line. This what I had to type just to edit a text file:

sudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst

The file then opened and I proceeded to edit it and then save it.
Thanks for wasting my time, Ubuntu.

I think we should give these CLI enthusiasts something that they truly deserve. Let's not give them a graphical desktop environment at all. Let's just give them the terminal. It'll be fun to watch them copy and paste 100 music files, compile source codes for applications, connect to a phone via bluetooth and set up wifi all through a CLI. Come on, now Mr. Tux-fanatic. I'm sure clicka.... clicka.... is terribly slow compared to a fast, sword slashing command on good old BASH.

So many people who opt for using a CLI on a PC also get a time machine free. It transports them to the year 1971, where they'll start preaching them how usable GUI's are and how their stone-age CLI is so outdated.

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