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#1 2009-09-03 20:39:03

hantrash
Member
From: Europe
Registered: 2009-09-03
Posts: 2

Why this fascination with terminal applications?

Whats with the fetish for extreme lightweight terminal apps among arch users?

Looking through the screenshot thread, way over half seems to be terminal-only users or replacing gtk/qt applications with terminal equivalents And it also seems most are running new hardware, so speed is usually no problem anyhow. I really do see the benefit and flexibility of the command line for some common operations, but can't seem to grasp how most people here want to run every application inside a terminal.
I used to do it for years, with pekwm and only firefox as a non-terminal app, but today gnome seem so much more productive and delightful to use.
I am still running mocp and some other terminal apps, i love the command line, it's not about that.
The constant reach for keyboard to do every single task seems so.. unnecessary  to me.
This fetish may be extra obvious around here since arch is a 'simple, lightweight linux distribution', and attracts users with a strong focus on that, but still... The amount of tiling wms also hints that this is something more and more people are getting into.

- Is it because it is a computing approach not possible with Windows?
- Is it because it can give you an overview over everything at once?

This is not a rant or a negative post. I would just like to hear some viewpoints on why so many people here prefer their linuxes this way and maybe get a discussion about the pros and cons of both approaches, that's all smile

And.. first post, hello everybody. big_smile

edit: Not quite sure if this is in the right forum.

Last edited by hantrash (2009-09-03 20:40:40)

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#2 2009-09-03 20:47:57

bender02
Member
From: Germany
Registered: 2007-02-04
Posts: 1,328

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

hantrash wrote:

The constant reach for keyboard to do every single task seems so.. unnecessary  to me.

For me it's exactly opposite. The constant reach for the mouse to do every single task seems so .. unnecesary to me. Anyways.

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#3 2009-09-03 20:48:33

happycloud
Member
Registered: 2009-09-03
Posts: 2

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

Well for myself - I use OSX as my main platform and I have terminal dropping down from top using a hot key with MC (midnight commander) and I use 50 times a day on average. Why?  Mostly because of the command line tools. Not really "applications" so maybe that's not what you meant but for myself for example I use find and grep to find stuff, chmod/chown is way quicker, opening files... Even if I open the files in a GUI app which I do often, I can type way quicker than I can usually click and I click fast just fine.   And MC... well.. that thing does more than most of the rest of the system. On linux I use lynx here and there as it is way faster. Great for last bids on eBay smile.

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#4 2009-09-03 21:06:33

thayer
Fellow
From: Vancouver, BC
Registered: 2007-05-20
Posts: 1,560
Website

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

bender02 wrote:
hantrash wrote:

The constant reach for keyboard to do every single task seems so.. unnecessary  to me.

For me it's exactly opposite. The constant reach for the mouse to do every single task seems so .. unnecesary to me. Anyways.

People are increasingly opting for notebooks and netbooks which makes this even more pronounced.

Is it because it is a computing approach not possible with Windows?

Perhaps. Once you get the hang of tiling window managers it can be cumbersome to use the traditional stacking model.  When using Windows XP at work, or a stacking wm elsewhere I spend much of time thinking, "it would be so much easier to do this or do that with a tiling wm". 

While I recognize the need for a mouse when it comes to graphics design, I loathe using it or a touchpad for mundane tasks.  It may not seem like much effort, but it really adds up at the end of the day, week, year, etc. and doing so while mobile is that much harder.


thayer williams ~ cinderwick.ca

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#5 2009-09-03 21:13:49

takedown
Member
From: Argentina
Registered: 2008-08-31
Posts: 219

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

bender02 wrote:
hantrash wrote:

The constant reach for keyboard to do every single task seems so.. unnecessary  to me.

For me it's exactly opposite. The constant reach for the mouse to do every single task seems so .. unnecesary to me. Anyways.

I love my trackpint tongue

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#6 2009-09-03 21:22:44

Misfit138
Misfit Emeritus
From: USA
Registered: 2006-11-27
Posts: 4,172

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

takedown wrote:
bender02 wrote:
hantrash wrote:

The constant reach for keyboard to do every single task seems so.. unnecessary  to me.

For me it's exactly opposite. The constant reach for the mouse to do every single task seems so .. unnecesary to me. Anyways.

I love my trackpint tongue

Trackpoint FTW. Your hands never have to leave the keyboard!
I was gonna call it the other thing, but that would be crude.

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#7 2009-09-03 22:48:51

alterecco
Member
Registered: 2009-07-13
Posts: 152

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

For me screen real estate is a thing (both from the pow of tiling and terminal apps). When your only machine is a laptop 1280x800 you want as many of those pixels in use as possible. I have used a tiling wm for ~ 2 years now, and have gradually simplified my use of it. from 9 tags down to 5, from multiple terminals side by side, to one (perhaps 2) running tmux and maximized. The main reason i see for using tiling wm's is that when you need multiple windows on the same screen, everything still behaves sane (if you like keyboard control).
Another reason is that you can run everything inside tmux (or screen) and have your terminal environment survive a X shutdown (be it intentional or not).
I also find that terminal apps behave better. They usually try to get the interface out of your way, and expose the functionality. They mostly operate well with other applications, making tasks scriptable.
You can even work fully over ssh, and not feel you are crippled by having to use terminal applications.

All in all, it is a matter of the right tool for the job. Firefox has it's place, as does Gimp, Inkscape etc... But sometimes all you really need is just elinks, or convert or vim (always vim...)

.]

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#8 2009-09-03 23:37:42

respite
Member
From: Los Angeles
Registered: 2008-03-26
Posts: 12

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

My first draw to console apps was leaving them running in a screen session so i could access them via ssh. The love for text apps continues from the switch to tiling window managers and abandoning the mouse.


Screaming obscenities since 1979.

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#9 2009-09-04 00:52:25

japetto
Member
From: Chicago, IL US
Registered: 2006-07-02
Posts: 183

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

For me, it's about the speed and ease in which I can perform common tasks.  For example, system administration, coding, and email rely heavily on keyboard usage, so I prefer to spend as little time as possible reaching for a mouse.  Even when I am not using a tiling WM, I look to do as much as possible with keyboard shortcuts.

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#10 2009-09-04 02:05:09

linkmaster03
Member
Registered: 2008-12-27
Posts: 269

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

I love terminal apps because I can run them in screen and over ssh. If I want to go away from my computer for something, I can fire up Linux my Nintendo DS, ssh into my computer, and keep irssi at my fingertips.

Terminal apps also don't require the mouse which I find to be unneeded for many tasks, such as simple file management and chatting.

Terminal apps also tend to be very configurable.

Last edited by linkmaster03 (2009-09-04 02:06:36)

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#11 2009-09-04 02:06:23

Ranguvar
Member
Registered: 2008-08-12
Posts: 2,540

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

I don't think it's the fetish of lightweight terminal apps... I think it's the high tech crowd getting over the clumsy, bloated, and WIMP-centric fetish currently followed by the majority of computer users wink

2D GUIs do have their advantages, but 1D terminal apps are just as good or better for a lot of other stuff. I compare this to the what will happen soon, obsession with 3D desktops... already in part from Compiz & co. They're interesting, but the practical applications are few. 1D, 2D, and 3D all have their advantages and disadvantages for different applications, and this needs to be better recognized.

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#12 2009-09-04 02:51:13

madalu
Member
Registered: 2009-05-05
Posts: 217

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

For me, it's because most of my computer work is text editing. And for editing either code or prose, nothing can beat the keyboard shortcuts of vim or emacs (hey, I like both).

I'd also like to think that I can achieve a certain level of intuitive, integrated computing with text that I've yet to find in GUI environments. GUI apps have been designed historically to be big and self-contained. Pipes, scripts, cat, and so forth --- all these things make text-based computing so elegant and easy.

Finally, for better for worse, text based computing forces me to learn more about my system. For instance, I've learned more about how email works using Mutt and Gnus than I ever would have if I had stuck with Evolution or Kmail.

Last edited by madalu (2009-09-04 02:52:57)

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#13 2009-09-04 03:27:12

jcolinzheng
Member
From: Cambridge, MA
Registered: 2008-08-06
Posts: 50
Website

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

My distaste for the the console geekers is no less than for the WIMP crowds.
It is irrational to try to do everything in console (ie fetish).  Being able to open via SSH, from workstation running a different OS, etc, is not a convenience reserved for console apps only (there may be performance issues for eg X Window SSH tunneling but such technological limitation is soon to disappear).
Unconditional console addiction, an unfortunate hallmark of many UNIX geekers, is simply counter-productive (likewise, of course, for the WIMP addicted).

(I have since long abandoned, eg, remind/wyrd in favor of Google Calendar, writing LaTeX in vim in favor of writing LaTeX with AUCTeX, etc.  That said, I still use mutt-ng, mc, screen, ion3, etc.)

Last edited by jcolinzheng (2009-09-04 03:34:46)

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#14 2009-09-04 04:51:35

Ranguvar
Member
Registered: 2008-08-12
Posts: 2,540

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

jcolinzheng wrote:

My distaste for the the console geekers is no less than for the WIMP crowds.
It is irrational to try to do everything in console (ie fetish).  Being able to open via SSH, from workstation running a different OS, etc, is not a convenience reserved for console apps only (there may be performance issues for eg X Window SSH tunneling but such technological limitation is soon to disappear).
Unconditional console addiction, an unfortunate hallmark of many UNIX geekers, is simply counter-productive (likewise, of course, for the WIMP addicted).

(I have since long abandoned, eg, remind/wyrd in favor of Google Calendar, writing LaTeX in vim in favor of writing LaTeX with AUCTeX, etc.  That said, I still use mutt-ng, mc, screen, ion3, etc.)

There are _many_ advantages to terminal apps, as madalu talked about. Show me some GUI pipes.
And as _I_ said, I don't believe one should try to do everything from the console. I simply think the GUI is vastly overrated, and that it should be recognized each have their strengths. I use Firefox for most stuff, but Elinks is nice for a quick check of something. I use vim for editing text, because it rocks and I have no need for gvim. I use Deluge for torrents, though, because I simply can't get used to rtorrent (also, it lacks some things like editing trackers). Etc.

Both have their advantages, but the console is overall far more flexible and much lighter, so is preferable except where the GUI offers some specific advantage.

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#15 2009-09-04 05:44:06

Sophotect
Member
From: Hyperbolic excess
Registered: 2007-03-25
Posts: 30

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

GUI Pipes? Hm, hotwire-shell maybe? The project site itself seems down. But the migthy google code an its wiki is working :-)
http://code.google.com/p/hotwire-shell/
http://aur.archlinux.org/packages.php?ID=12103

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#16 2009-09-04 06:23:04

.:B:.
Forum Fellow
Registered: 2006-11-26
Posts: 5,819

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

There are things that are handled more efficiently (hence quickly) by a keyboard than by a mouse. However, that only goes for experienced computer users - most people that claim the mouse is *the* tool to get things done are just casual users (or people who are too lazy or ignorant to learn about shortcuts). You are right though - e.g. for tagging music files I can't get myself to use a command line program, I like point 'n click. On the other hand, I'll mostly use a terminal to browse a file system, and only open Thunar occasionally.

My brother uses e.g. AutoCAD everyday, and it seems it has its own 'command line' (I did not know about it). When he's rendering or drawing he uses it all the time. He knows about *nix command lines (because I use Linux) but is a normal (albeit smart and interested) Windows user in every aspect.


Got Leenucks? :: Arch: Power in simplicity :: Get Counted! Registered Linux User #392717 :: Blog thingy

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#17 2009-09-04 07:27:37

oli
Member
From: 127.0.0.1
Registered: 2006-02-07
Posts: 164
Website

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

hantrash wrote:

Whats with the fetish for extreme lightweight terminal apps among arch users?

Looking through the screenshot thread, way over half seems to be terminal-only users or replacing gtk/qt applications with terminal equivalents And it also seems most are running new hardware, so speed is usually no problem anyhow. I really do see the benefit and flexibility of the command line for some common operations, but can't seem to grasp how most people here want to run every application inside a terminal.
I used to do it for years, with pekwm and only firefox as a non-terminal app, but today gnome seem so much more productive and delightful to use.
I am still running mocp and some other terminal apps, i love the command line, it's not about that.
The constant reach for keyboard to do every single task seems so.. unnecessary  to me.
This fetish may be extra obvious around here since arch is a 'simple, lightweight linux distribution', and attracts users with a strong focus on that, but still... The amount of tiling wms also hints that this is something more and more people are getting into.

- Is it because it is a computing approach not possible with Windows?
- Is it because it can give you an overview over everything at once?

This is not a rant or a negative post. I would just like to hear some viewpoints on why so many people here prefer their linuxes this way and maybe get a discussion about the pros and cons of both approaches, that's all smile

And.. first post, hello everybody. big_smile

edit: Not quite sure if this is in the right forum.

It's not a fetish, it's just efficiency. Why do you think professional users  are using e.g. Photoshop with keyboard shortcuts and a tablet? Because it is cool? No, because it's faster, more efficent - the mouse is just a bad try to make things "better". I'm using the latter only if there isn't an alternative.


Use UNIX or die.

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#18 2009-09-04 12:57:32

Trent
Member
From: Baltimore, MD (US)
Registered: 2009-04-16
Posts: 988

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

I don't really have a philosophical argument to offer here in favor of using console apps.  Instead, I'll list the things that I do with my PC on a regular basis:
- Write code (C, Perl, Python, HTML, CSS, occasionally Java)
- Compile code
- Browse the Web
- Take notes
- Back up files
- Perform calculations

That about sums it up.  I use uzbl most of the time for browsing because it's so much faster than Firefox -- I only use Firefox for sites that don't like uzbl.  Aside from that, everything else on the list is imho better done in a console.  I use vim to write code and take notes (I use a kind of Wiki markup for that) because of its strengths for editing (enumerated elsewhere).  I compile small programs from the command line directly, and use Makefiles when they exceed more than a few files.  When I need powerful calculations, python serves my needs (I have a calculator for trivial tasks).  And I backup with rsync.  I just don't really need anything that isn't a console app.

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#19 2009-09-04 13:21:09

jwcxz
Member
Registered: 2008-09-23
Posts: 239
Website

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

Like most young Linux users, I started out with Windows, and therefore originally felt most comfortable with GUI apps.  I was 11 or 12 when I switched to Linux.  2.4 was the kernel version and support for my hardware was pretty bad so I was forced to learn how to become efficient with the command line for administrative tasks, but I still used GUI apps for everything else.

Since then, even though I could technically use the command line less than I did back then, I decided to pursue it further.  Especially when I settled with Gentoo and Arch, I was using the command line for almost everything.  One by one, the apps I used were replaced with command line equivalents.  For whatever reason, GUI apps now seem counterintuitive to me...  I like being able to type a command more than to go through a menu.

As of right now, the two main GUI apps I use are Firefox (with Vimperator), Kontact, Amarok, and Picasa.  Everything else: IRC, editing, system administration, etc. is all done from the command line.

The main advantage of command line apps is that they are usually command or shortcut based, not menu-based.  There's a steep learning curve, but the payoff is wonderful.  I'm so much faster with vim than I ever was with GUI editors.

Of course, there are instances where command line apps are simply inefficient.  Paging through mail with a CLI client is kind of silly, in my opinion.  Kmail, on the other hand, is wonderful; it has a really slick interface (not to mention highly tunable threading algorithms) and I'm much more efficient with that.  I have similar arguments for Amarok, Firefox (well, maybe I'll try uzbl at some point), and Picasa.  I've just about found a good equilibrium between CLI and GUI apps.

In summary, the fascination lies in the desire for utmost productivity.  Arch users tend to care about it more than other Linux users because they are drawn toward Arch's philosophy of flexibility and efficiency.


-- jwc
http://jwcxz.com/ | blog
dotman - manage your dotfiles across multiple environments
icsy - an alarm for powernappers

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#20 2009-09-04 13:53:16

oli
Member
From: 127.0.0.1
Registered: 2006-02-07
Posts: 164
Website

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

@jwcxz did you ever use Mutt or Alpine? I don't see any problem with these or even a loss of efficiency. Maybe you're referring to HTML-emails, then it's understandable. But many people do not even read HTML mails. So paging through a plethora of mails works like a charm since over a decade :-)


Use UNIX or die.

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#21 2009-09-04 14:12:41

Meyithi
Member
From: Wirral, UK
Registered: 2009-06-21
Posts: 550
Website

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

I'm pretty much the opposite of most of you it seems, I don't code and use my PC as an entertainment device (Web, Music, Video, Games, Social Networking), hence having to touch the keyboard is a last resort.  I use Arch and Openbox because I like efficiency and the simple configuration, just because I like a mouse driven GUI it doesn't mean that I like a bloated and inefficient system to achieve it.

I like to lean back on my chair with my mouse in one hand and a cigarette, food or drink in the other and do my thing!  I totally get terminal apps and how they serve coders and administrators, I just worry as DE's become more bloated and inefficient and lightweight WM's become lighter where and how the middle ground will be reached.  There seems to be a rather large hole in place, with only LXDE and XFCE in place that seem to be targetting low spec machines.

I have 2tb storage, 3.2ghz dual core processor and 8gb RAM on my box, reserving resources isn't a worry.


The mind roams more freely in empty rooms.
dwm - colours - ncmpcpp - system
irc://irc.freenode.net:meyithi

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#22 2009-09-04 14:28:25

shining
Pacman Developer
Registered: 2006-05-10
Posts: 2,043

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

hantrash wrote:

I used to do it for years, with pekwm and only firefox as a non-terminal app, but today gnome seem so much more productive and delightful to use.
I am still running mocp and some other terminal apps, i love the command line, it's not about that.
The constant reach for keyboard to do every single task seems so.. unnecessary  to me.
This fetish may be extra obvious around here since arch is a 'simple, lightweight linux distribution', and attracts users with a strong focus on that, but still... The amount of tiling wms also hints that this is something more and more people are getting into.

- Is it because it is a computing approach not possible with Windows?
- Is it because it can give you an overview over everything at once?

Interesting topic.

In my case, I started using linux with standard big desktops like gnome/kde and only graphical apps.
Then I progressively switched to lighter and lighter wm (fluxbox,fvwm,openbox), then tiling wm (first wmii then dwm) and lighter and lighter apps (first lighter gui then console apps)
At the end, I was using dwm with only console apps (screen zsh irssi vim mutt ncmpc/mocp/cmus) except ff+vimperator , and really liked that setup. At some point I wanted to use gmail+imap and got mad with mutt imap support (or offlineimap) so I switched back to gmail web.

Then I started to work, with only Windows (fortunately xp), and I realized I didn't know how to use that anymore. I first installed vimperator there, then looked for ways to do tiling in windows, but I eventually gave up.
So actually I preferred to switch back to an environment closer to windows on my personal laptop, and started re-using gnome and more and more graphical apps, and had to learn again how to use the mouse more.

Though I still need the trio screen vim irssi on my laptop, and still do most operations (e.g. managing files) in zsh shell.

Last edited by shining (2009-09-04 14:30:02)


pacman roulette : pacman -S $(pacman -Slq | LANG=C sort -R | head -n $((RANDOM % 10)))

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#23 2009-09-04 15:27:01

dmz
Member
From: Sweden
Registered: 2008-08-27
Posts: 876
Website

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

"Write programs that do one thing and do it well. Write programs to work together. Write programs to handle text streams, because that is a universal interface."

Last edited by dmz (2009-09-04 15:27:24)

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#24 2009-09-04 15:43:47

Rasi
Member
From: Germany
Registered: 2007-08-14
Posts: 1,901
Website

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

I love my KDE, i pretty much like gnome and openbox has my heart anyway.

But i tend to use wmii more and more, because the concept of tiling is brilliant. i admit it: i use terminal apps in wmii for purely aesthetic reasons. GUI apps dont look good in tiling mode.

Back on kde i usally use the full blown graphical desktop again (apart from irc, that is reserved for terminal)


He hoped and prayed that there wasn't an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped that there wasn't an afterlife.

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#25 2009-09-04 18:55:04

pseudonomous
Member
Registered: 2008-04-23
Posts: 349

Re: Why this fascination with terminal applications?

I don't actually use a tiling window manager because I'm really a fan having a full-blown, or at least XFCE-sized desktop environment and I don't want to work hard at doing things like manually editing an applications menu, or stuff like that, but I've come to believe that a tiling-wm paradigm really makes a light more sense then common "floating" window mangers.

I mean think about it, you can;t do anything with an application you can't see, or is mostly obscured by another window.  If you're only using one application, there's not reason it should be full-screen or at least maximized in the window.  If you want need to see two applications simultaneously it almost always makes the most sense to have them to be non-overlapping and filling as large of a screen area as possible.

With multiple desktop. you can get the effect of "atl-tab" switching w/ the added bonus of setting your maximized applications to be full-screen.

Of course, you can get an arguably better effect using 2 monitors in a traditional WM like Kwin, (which is what I do most of the time), but not everyone has an extra monitor laying around, and you're certainly not dragging on around with you when you take your laptop somewhere.

Anyways, that's how I feel.  Eventually maybe I'll figure out how to integrate a tiling WM w/ the KDE desktop.

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