I have to break stride here for a little bit — considering that my last two posts were about console applications, I don’t want this blog to turn into some kind of “console app-a-day” site.
Not that that would be a bad thing, it’s just a little gimmicky for me, there are lots of sites like that out there already, and I don’t have the resources (read: time) to pursue that sort of project. And really, this is where I stash my notes and thoughts about Linux, not introduce software or distributions. Usually.
What has my brain turning today is a simple thread in the Ubuntu Forums that sparks the age-old discussion about the usefulness of the CLI over GUIs. Without getting too far into that debate, I can tell you that when I was a moderator and a forum regular, I would usually resort to helping troubleshoot with console commands over GUI instructions. The logic should be fairly obvious — I was unfamiliar with most non-Gnome desktops, my own desktop was rather esoteric, and I couldn’t predict what the other person was using.
So like most other moderators at the time (and probably still now; they can confirm that if they like), I usually offered solutions at the command line, over point-and-click. End of story.
Or is it? The quote that grabbed me out of the aforementioned thread, was this one.
It also ascertains a distinction among “classes” of ubuntu (or linux) users – if you know the shell, you’re in. If you are afraid of the shell (like meself, not because I now feel more comfortable with a graphic environment, but because I feel less comfortable with typing in commands i dont know what they mean) – well, dunno, you’re afraid of the shell.
I know, and I have experienced, a sort of “inferiority” that occasionally swirls around Linux in general. I have been told to RTFM, and also been told that if I didn’t understand something, I shouldn’t be pursuing it. It’s unfortunate. I make no apologies, but I accept that snotty tone as the nature of the beast. After all, this entire movement started out (as a loose explanation) as a challenge, burgeoned into a hobby, became the domain of the geek, and is only now becoming mainstream and accessible to the ordinary, non-technophiliac John Q. Public. Maybe soon that snotty tone will be gone altogether.
But if there is an upper “class” of Linux users that is somehow determined by whether or not a person uses the terminal … well, I have my doubts. Speaking for myself only, I could care less if you spend your entire life at the GUI, if you play halfsies with a terminal emulator on a graphical desktop, or if you drilled holes in your skull so you could wire your brain to your CPU. I make no distinctions as to whether you’re hip or square, cool or a tool just because you type in your commands, instead of moving around a mouse.
So if you’re getting some sort of sense of inferiority by reading this site, a feeling that you’re somehow a lesser being than me because I prefer the text-based interface that is easily 40 or 50 years out of date … that’s something on your end. PEBKAC.
Moving back to the larger scale, I have to wonder how many people who mention this same sense of inferiority — because the OP’s assertions are reinforced later, so there must be more — are also guilty of this, when the person offering the advice is doing little more than taking the quick, efficient route to a solution. I’m guessing for Ubuntu in particular, that feeling is inferred, not implied.
(And as a side note, I can attest that occasionally, when I mention Linux to some Windows users, there is a similar bristling effect, which suggests to me that perhaps that same sense of inferiority is perceived on their part.)
So where’s it come from? I don’t know. But the OP’s post — to me, at least — suggests a hesitance to learn, and from that, my own belief is that the sense of inferiority stems somehow from that. (Everything goes back to transactional analysis, but that’s just my own philosophy. )
The moral of the story, if you ask me, is ask what the command does. Make an effort to learn. You’ll be sidestepping the sense of inferiority that seems to come about from ignorance or fear, and at the same time will somehow permit you to “enter” that “upper echelon” of Linux users that otherwise seems to exist. And once you’ve done that, you’ll realize that there was no class system, just one big happy family.