[OT] Debian mailinglists [was: RE: Debian or Ubuntu?]

Les Mikesell lesmikesell at gmail.com
Tue May 20 19:24:51 UTC 2008

Bart Silverstrim wrote:
>> My point was that anyone who has ever had to edit a complicated MS
>> server with its GUI tool knows why CLIs are better suited for that task,
>> at least for knowledgeable server admins, which frankly anyone should be
>> who admins a valuable server.
>> Those who have had to manager 100 servers with GUI tools know even
>> better.
> I don't have 100 servers, but I have had a fair number of systems to 
> configure and quite frankly I find a mix to be most appropriate. The 
> command line is slick and fast (as long as I've already learned about 
> and know what I am doing). But it gets *unwieldy* when I have a two or 
> three line set of commands because of long paths or redirects, for 
> example. 

But after you have done it once, you can just recall that command and 
edit it into ssh commands to your other machines, paste it into shell 
windows running remotely, or paste it into a text file or script for the 
next time you need to do it.

> It is a lot easier for me to (again, just an example) have a 
> graphical interface where I can set options and let it rip with a task.

If there's more than a couple, they always end up hidden behind tabs you 
can't see with no way to script a repeatable operation.

> I have had tasks that are easier with a few typed commands. I've had 
> some where it's just easier for me to work with a tree of objects. Ever 
> try navigating the Windows registry by command line? Painful, with some 
> hive and key names.

But if you have that path in a text file, it becomes a cut/paste

> Graphically, it's a cinch, plus easier to compare 
> two or more keys.

How is anything easier to compare than what diff will do to text files 
or a directory of them?

> I still stand by the statement that so far the argument is GUI tools 
> just suck, just use it and you'll know why; this doesn't say what the 
> problem is.

One problem is that GUI's don't have a way to repeat multiple 
operations.  Or if they do, their programming language in no way 
resembles their interactive language, where with the command line and 
shell, a script is exactly the same as the interactive command plus you 
have some consistent tools for loops and substitutions if you want them.

The other is that the safety checks you expect from the GUI are only 
possible for things where there are a known number of choices.

> This is reflecting a personal matter of style and/or taste, 
> not a definitive reason. There are volumes on human/computer interaction 
> out there that embody research on computer interfaces, so while some 
> express a preference by the simple "it just sucks", it is possible to 
> define the reasoning.

Tools always suck when they don't do what you want.  If a GUI happens to 
have defaults that work for you, you only have one or a few machines to 
repeat the operations on, and the programmer thought of all the choices 
you need, you might like it.  But those things may all be different for 
someone else using that same GUI.

> The statements made reflect just the current 
> generation of tools and your preferences without actually giving a 
> non-subjective reason.

Preferences are subjective...

   Les Mikesell
    lesmikesell at gmail.com

More information about the ubuntu-users mailing list