One does not imply the other

I wouldn’t equate Linux proficiency with command-line proficiency, but it doesn’t surprise me that prevailing wisdom needs the latter to define the former. In other words, this poll from a while ago in the Ubuntu Forums.

To me, those are really two distinct issues — how proficient are you with Linux, and how comfortable are you with the command line — being morphed into one so some sense of objectiveness can be attained.

Because judging your own ability is inherently subjective. Just as an example, I see myself as a beginner and probably always will. People graduate from university on a daily (monthly? quarterly?) basis with computer and Linux proficiency that far outstrips mine.

On the other hand, I have met more than one person — to include Windows “power users,” to be completely unfair and off-topic — who gave me an irritating smirk and the classic line from Brazil, that “Computers are my forte.” And then couldn’t turn the stupid thing on.

But above and beyond all that, I can’t say that I’m too thrilled with another post that somehow splices Linux’s learning curve with the mystique of the command line.

Why? Mostly because it engenders the myth that you need to be some sort of Linux overmind to enjoy or understand using CLI applications and programs.

I’d just as soon get away from that myth, because it doesn’t have to be that way. Truth be told, I do very little in the way of day-to-day operations without some sort of User Interface … it’s just not Graphical.

So in the future, let’s keep a clean separation between Linux expertise and command-line skill. You can be an expert and not use the command line. And you can use the command line and not be an expert. 😈

8 thoughts on “One does not imply the other

  1. Nootilus

    Maybe you can bother less about peoples than about yourself on that specific point? I have on some topics the same point of view as yours but after a while I think that peoples aren’t children and if they cannot be aware of their own skills, flaws and still need to be managed because it’s easier for them (like parents who still call you to ask what to do when the computer says something and the only choice is to click the only “Ok” button for example), then, well, let them make their own path.

    What I’m trying to mean with my poor english, is that I follow with attention your blog because thanks to you I’m now “taking back control” of my computer. I’m still a very beginner with linux, and actually can’t go further than having a Crunchbang where I try to do as much as I can through CLI instead of GUI. Most of what I can do I know from you and a few others. I know no one around me who can help if I’m stuck or if I want to do something and can’t find suitable documentation.

    Therefore, I think you shouldn’t loose too much time with such consideration about peoples lost by the wrong idea that Linux & CLI are for computer gurus. Except if you plan to teach them, of course.

    I am not sure at all I was clear enough with what I intented to write in my reply. If not, and if you have enough time, I’ll be pleased to discuss that with you.

    With regards,
    One of your reader,
    Vincent “Nootilus” Corlaix

  2. HilltopYodeler

    R.O.T – In my wacky world, that stands for “Right On Target”. Kmandla, I love your outlook on things; if you wrote a book, I’d buy it. Being an “expert” at something is usually a matter of opinion, whether it’s someone else’s opinion or the individual expert’s own opinion — it’s all relative to the situation at hand. For instance, perhaps your boss or your colleagues consider you an “expert” at what you do, which is a good thing and earns you respect. But, at the same time, you may not consider yourself an “expert” at what you do because the path of learning is endless and that one can truly never really be an “expert”. It’s all a matter of opinion. I think that if we just keep learning about the things that we are interested in, that we get better at what we do, we advance our knowledge, we stimulate our minds, and we gain satisfaction through personal improvement; perhaps in the process, in the eyes of a bystander, we might appear to be an expert, but most likely we are experts only in comparison to their own knowledge and skill.

    For me, the path of learning is endless in all things that I am interested in; we never really quite “get there” because we’re always on our way to our destination… but I guess that’s how I like it. “Expert” is a funny word and in my opinion, seems to only be relevant to the person who is using the word. I prefer the word “experienced”; to me it simply means that you know more now than you did yesterday. πŸ™‚

  3. Armor Nick

    You’re exactly right, of course. My motto is actually that to become the best, you always have to try to get better. Take the following for instance:

    “I am a good programmer. I can program in Java, C, C++ and languages generally using the same syntax. However, I am bad at Python. Does that make me a bad programmer?”

    “I’m a computer expert. I know my way around a windows computer and am able to fix most things in a standard Windows install. However, I am unable to fix a standard Ubuntu install. Am I still a computer expert?”

    The world of IT is extremely fragmented, and even after I get my degree, I will refuse to state any of the above. I will never be a computer expert as long as I don’t know my way around every single system. And I refuse to be simply called a ‘good programmer’ without a language between those two words. πŸ˜‰

  4. bpalone

    You’re correct in your self assessment. Will Rogers stated it best: “We’re all ignorant. Just in different areas.”

    Now, where does this false notion (the one you mention and describe) originate from? Well, first we have almost all the responses to people on any Linux forum being CLI based. So, that makes a logical leap for most people.

    Add to that, the fact we now have at least one generation, maybe two, that have never had anything but a GUI to work with. They didn’t have to learn a bunch of commands in order to get a program running and to get useful output from the same.

    Those of us that are old enough, cut our computing teeth on a command line. Furthermore, most of us (of that age group) jump to the command line to trouble shoot issues, regardless of the OS. We know that it is more powerful and gets the answers for us quicker. Now, does being an older computer user make an expert? I think not! As for myself, my learning journey is still in its infancy.

    1. nothingspecial


      You are the expert on these matters.

      There is no other blog that has taught me so much about running old computers.

  5. nothingspecial


    You are the expert in using old computers.

    I don`t know o9f any other site that has more than this on the subject

  6. Pingback: Links 11/11/2010: The Linux 2.6.37 FS Benchmarks, MPlayer Turns Ten | Techrights

  7. saulgoode

    “None of our men are ‘experts.’ We have most unfortunately found it necessary to get rid of a man as soon as he thinks himself an expert because no one ever considers himself expert if he really knows his job. A man who knows a job sees so much more to be done than he has done, that he is always pressing forward and never gives up an instant of thought to how good and how efficient he is. Thinking always ahead, thinking always of trying to do more, brings a state of mind in which nothing is impossible. The moment one gets into the ‘expert’ state of mind a great number of things become impossible.” β€” Henry Ford


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