Command Line Not Out of Fashion Everywhere

by Susan Linton - Oct. 29, 2010Comments (4)

konsoleIn this day of heavy eye candy and all point 'n click desktops, the command-line seems to be falling further and further into disuse - at least by regular desktop users. The command-line and its power can perform everyday tasks faster and easier than a bunch of clicking around, yet new users are still intimidated by the prospect. But there really is nothing to fear. To help prove its usefulness, here are my top 15 used commands (from a fairly fresh install).




ls - list directory contents. can be used with a variety of options to refine its usefulness. My favorite is usually ls -hal, which is list all files (even hidden) in directory in an easily understandable long list format. Many times I may use -t for time to list newest first or -S for size to list the largest first.

equo - the command used for the command-line version of Sabayon's package management system.

cat - outputs the contents of a file onto standout or the terminal window.

mount - mounts devices and filesystems. Sometimes the automounter doesn't always work and how handy it is to know how to do manually.

nano - my favorite terminal text editor.

mkdir - makes new directories.

lsmod - list modules currently loaded very quickly.

top - displays tasks running and how much system resources being used by each.

sulfur - Sabayon's graphical package management. An update broke regular user execution and subsequent root password input - so I started it in the terminal for a while. Something not usually done.

modprobe - loads and activates device drivers or modules. My TV card is never auto-detected properly and it usually takes a while before I get around to remembering to add the commands into a startup file.

locate - finds files by name

exit - logs current user out

echo - displays a line of text, most handy for creating or adding a line of text (or command) to a file. Almost like the opposite of cat.

df - reports on the disk file system sizes. Handy for seeing how much space is left on a given partition.

killall - quickly dispatches a runaway or hanging process.




wc - displays byte, word, or line count of a given file.

cat - again, outputs the contents of a file onto the terminal for a quick and easy read.

tvtime - a TV viewing application I prefer to start from the command-line.

ls - again, lists the files in a directory.

killall - kills those runaway and hanging processses.

su - change to given user, most commonly superuser (or root)

top - again, gives resource usage information

ssh - facilitates the logging into a remote server (OpenSSH)

smbclient - allows SAMBA access to servers or other computers. Not real popular anymore with most people.

whois - searches the Whois Lookup directory for IP Addresses and domain names.

wget - command-line download client.

man - displays fine manuals. Helps users to use commands.

locate - again, finds files on your computer.

ps - lists current running processes.

history - lists a history of previously input commands. Especially handy for rarely used commands and options.

John Mark Walker uses OStatic to support Open Source, ask and answer questions and stay informed. What about you?


I have a lot of love for the command line so I enjoy reading about others experiences of it. I think it shows the power of it when you can have a favorite command that I have, but we use them for wholly different purposes. For example, I personally use "cat" to join files by piping data to another file instead of the terminal. This has been handy when Ive join video clips from my mobile.

Another handy command line app I use is "curl" and I use it to send the odd tweet...shame on you for not mentioning it! ;)

Then of course theres the "dialog" command which is very useful to tart up your bash scripts and make them friendlier for other users.

The command line is a powerful (and easy) environment, its a shame there are some out there that like to paint it as something for "elite" users only.

Kindest regards


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also ... less, grep, sort, du, tail, sudo, script, find, xargs, for, while, ... not to mention pipes, redirection.

I run almost everything from a command line, including most GUI applications like evince, mplayer, or gimp. Also great for single line scripts to process multiple files where a gui application would be tedious, error prone, impractical, and slow. (for n in *; do something; done).

Well it must be good, microsoft windows 7 even includes a command line in the 'start menu' - finally acknowledging that command lines are faster and simpler than point and click. I guess it helps that they made the 'menu' so much harder to use.

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Please take this as constructive critique, I am not trying to offend but instead will like to see a version 2 of this article...

The title and possible message are not in pair with the content... If the title is: "Command Line Not Out of Fashion Everywhere", then show me how to make a bunch of cool daily usage things from command prompt.

Let's take media for example as you mention your TV.. Show command line functionalities that can:

- convert files from format XXX to YYY

- how to move files with name or date like such into another folder

- how to update files metadata automatically

- etc...

Even though this can turn into "somewhat" complex commands, at least you can show how they are in "fashion" by making it more convenient than GUI.

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Hi! I use this to recover files:

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