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

Bart Silverstrim bsilver at chrononomicon.com
Wed May 21 01:32:11 UTC 2008

Les Mikesell wrote:
> 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.

And backspace to where in the line I need one subtle change from what I 
just executed previously... :-)

>> 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.

Actually I've used a couple programs that were basically front-ends, and 
at some location in it the application there was a window with the 
"resulting command".  I'm thinking of two in particular at the moment, 
one for setting up SSH tunnels on OS X and one for working with NMap, 
but I could be mistaken.

>> 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

Are you talking about this operation being done in X? Because that would 
also technically be utilizing a GUI to assist in the administration :-)

>> 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?

Honestly? Because I have had cases where I'm scrolling through a listing 
of a large number of things and the scrolling becomes a solid pattern, 
and the thing I'm looking for is an anomaly.

Or I put two windows side by side comparing items visually.

>> 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.

Okay GUIs aren't easily scriptable. That doesn't mean they're 
fundamentally flawed for other tasks any more than saying that the 
command line doesn't easily let me browse hi-res photos.

> 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.

I guess I'm lost here on how the command line gives you more 
safety...I've mistyped commands on the command line and hit <enter> to 
accept the command out of just repetitive action, just like clicking the 
<accept> button on installers without fully reading what the dialog had 
to say...?

> Tools always suck when they don't do what you want.  

Well, that's just about everything out there...

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

Preferences are. But there are other benchmarks that can be applied. 
Usability studies and interface research aren't based on magic.

The tools and techniques often aren't a %100 fit. But on average you can 
find trends against which to judge the tool.

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