GNU/Linux Introduction to Console

GNU/Linux comes with different desktop environments. Most popular of those are KDE, GNOME 3, Mate(which is a fork of GNOME 2), Unity(only for Ubuntu), LXDE, Xfce etc. Depending on your desktop environment you will have a terminal program. For example, on KDE is it called Konsole, on Unity it is called Terminal, on LXDE it is called Lxteminal and so on. If you work on a machine without GUI then the terminal will be a black and white terminal which you will typically login on using ssh. For example, when I login on this server where this WordPress installation is running it looks somewhat like following:

Default root login on a server

GUI terminals usually support tabs so that you can run multiple processes which occupy terminal, for example, in one you can run an editor like vi or Emacs and in another you can run a Python web server. For knowing shortcuts of these different GUI terminals you should browse File, Edit, View and Settings in the menu. If you do not run a GUI at all then you have six terminals for pure console experience which can be activated using keystrokes Ctrl + Alt + F1 through Ctrl + Alt + F6.

Advantages of console

There are lots of commands in GNU/Linux which you will come to learn but it is a gradual process. There are lots of commands but only a handful of them are used repeatedly. You might ask why go through such a painful process of learning these commands when we have GUI available. The answer lies in two reasons. First, running GUI on a server is expensive as it eats up precious resources of a server. Second, it is very easy to automate or program for commands using bash scripts or any other programming language. Also, once you acquire proficiency with the command-line you will save a lot of time as it will be your second nature to execute these commands and you will rarely tough mouse which eats up lot of time.

Getting help

GNU/Linux comes with very high quality documentation in form of man(short for manual) pages or info documents. We will see later how to use these documents to retrieve help for the particular command in questions. Note that quality of these documents may vary depending on the individual author who has written them.

With this we come to end of this post. From next post onward we will see various commands in action with most common options to make our life easy with GNU/Linux command line.

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