Command line?

...or, Linux will never be an ‘average user’ Operating System (OS) if all the tips and tricks start by saying, ‘Open a terminal...’

And by ‘average user’ I mean the 99.9% of the population that uses a computer - Moms and Dads, Grandma’s and Grandpa’s, heck even collage students, etc.

While I understand where geekdom is coming from with regards to the terminal, the average user does NOT want to use the terminal! I don’t care what we geeks may think is ‘easier’, as soon as I read an article that states one can ‘easily’ install something by opening a terminal, I roll my eyes and get a little more irritated.

Let me be as clear as possible: To the average user, using the terminal means one of two things - it’s too hard to use, or it’s not ready to use.


Think about it. The average person using Windows never has to open a terminal. If our computer language to them about making changes, installing software, etc. starts with opening a terminal, they will not like the experience and revert back to Windows.

That’s what I love about Ubuntu. It is geared to the ‘average user’. It strives to take the ‘geek’ out of Linux. Now, I know that bothers some Linux folks, but I completely agree with their vision. Their focus is on the user experience. And there must be some truth behind that focus because Ubuntu is the most popular, recognized and widely used Linux OS around.

With that stated, however, there are even Ubuntu tips and tricks sites that use the same old terminal technique for installing software and managing the system. In other words, they are putting the geek back in Ubuntu! They are moving people in the opposite direction that Ubuntu is leading them. And while I find those articles extremely helpful for me, the average user would be completely lost.

So, while I applaud all of those people that are helping the average user with her new OS, we have to make it as simple for her as possible to use. And that means using methods that she will be familiar and comfortable with - a Graphical User Interface (GUI). We, as service and support people, need to meet our customers where they’re at - not expect them to come to where we are. Computers and tech and gadgets are OUR passions - not theirs. And to have the mind that ‘She should know how to use [whatever] because she’s using Linux’ is just plain nonsense. We geeks use things every day and we don’t have the slightest inkling of how they work and how to make them work, whether that’s transportation or gardening or clothing. We are all experts of our own experiences. We shouldn’t expect others to be experts in our experiences, too.

Unless of course, we really don’t want Ubuntu (and other Linux OSes) to be used by more people. And if that’s the case, then let’s stop complaining about how evil all of the other OSes are. One of the reasons those other OSes attract more people is that [gasp] they’re [seem to be] more user friendly! And if we aren’t willing to do that, if we don’t want to help people where they’re at, then let’s keep our mouths shut and let Linux once more be just a hobby for geekdom.

But if we really do want Ubuntu (and other Linux OSes) to be used by more people, let’s do everyone a big favor. Let’s start making our tools and tips without the use of the terminal. It will instantly make Ubuntu (and other Linux OSes) more mainstream and accessible.

And, if you have a blog or tech site about tips and tricks for Ubutnu (or other Linux OSes), please have people use the GUI that comes with those tips and tricks. Let’s the keep the terminal for us geeks.

Jack +, LC


Eric said…
Linux without the command line already exists, it's called OS-X.
Jack+, LC said…
Honestly, though, I have had to use the command line several times in OS X, too.

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