Every now and then people see me doing things (be it at work or at home) in terminal and they ask why on Earth do you do it to yourself? You’ve got plenty of fine graphical interfaces for everything, where things are easier and faster to do. Why do you memorize arcane shell commands instead of just clicking your way through simple everyday tasks?

And quite honestly, my personal reason for this is: out of habit. In the past I worked a lot on remote machines through SSH, where you do not really have a choice, terminal is the only option. In addition to that I did a lot of shell scripting, which got me well acquainted with ways of the terminal. And I got used to it so much back then, that even nowadays, when the kind of work I do for living and my daily routines changed a lot, it’s still much more natural to me to continue using the terminal.

Frankly, learning some GUI at this point does not make a lot of sense to me, because GUIs tend to change ways of displaying things over time, which makes you constanly relearn what you already know. It’s not that way with the terminal, which is virtually the same tool as it was back in the early days of computing. Of course, terminal emulators and shells1 evolve over time too, but those changes are much less substantial, beacuse commands are still carried by the text you type and arrangement of buttons, inputs and graphical menus does not matter.

However, if you aksed me whether or not it’s desireable for a software developer (or any person doing a lot of work on a computer for that matter) to put an effort into purpouseful learning to work in the console just for its own sake, without additional stimuli that I had, I would still say: yes, it is. Actually I believe that the terminal is particularly well suited tool for programmers and other people who write some kind of computer-interpreted code at work. However, after some getting used to it it’s also more convenient for everyone.

First of all I’d like to sort out a common misconception about the terminal. People tend to think it’s more difficult compared to any graphical tool. That is simply not true. The difference lies not in the difficulty, but in so called learning curve. Learning curve is a function relating time and effort put into learning a new ability to its usefulness or power. In other words, terminal is not harder, it only appears harder to an untrained observer.


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