The cli or the gui?

coffee_compRecently I read about a fun experiment – 30 days in a terminal challenge that ended in 10 days. While it might sound a geeky affair, I failed to understand why anyone with a rational mind would want to seclude himself in the terminal even for a single day. Our regular readers might be surprised with the statement. I’ll explain my stand in the rest of the article.

It’s a long nurtured belief that people working in a dark terminal with green fonts are geeks and those working on a gorgeous Mac desktop are just fanbois. It’s a myth! Productivity thrive differently for different people and the nature of work of each individual is different. In most cases the two modes are suited differently.

Let’s start with text editing: vim/emacs or sublime text? The truth is, I found joe very helpful in one of my projects on a minimal Linux distro. And I miss Notepad++ on Linux (I don’t use wine). Most of the time I use vim, but there are instances where I work with sizable raw html data and I prefer mousepad for the job. I find myself less than comfortable with vim for the job.

There are tons of cmdline music players around but I can’t live without the awesome effects of SMPlayer and its visual equalizer. No cmdline music player I know delivers that audio quality. And in case any of those do, I am not interested in wasting my time to tweak it to the perfect settings from the cmdline.

Viewing images in GPicView is classy. It’s very fast and renders images at very good quality. I also love to check GMail in the browser than in mutt. I’ve seen people who swear by mutt but can’t find the similarities between $PATH variable behavior on Linux and Windows.

There are many more instances… from transcoding in HandBrake to browsing, where I use X. Because it helps me complete these activities faster and with the best visual experience.

I checked out pass to replace KeePassX once. I uninstalled pass within 15 minutes. The directory like browsing and searching is far from ideal in my opinion. I never had to click more than 4 times in KeePassX to visit an entry and check the password. It’s smarter.

Despite all this, I spend more than 75% of my time in the cmdline; programming, writing articles like this, searching or greping files, searching (google or other) sites using googler or visiting bookmarks from Buku. All of that is made possible by AltYo, a tabbed drop-down terminal that maintains the cmdline state.

The fact is, cli and gui (or X) are complimentary. Any attempt to stick to any one is a self-inflicted handicap. There are certain things which can be done much faster from the cli without losing the experience, or using considerably less memory, I’m all in for those. But you can’t do everything from the cli without compromising, and you should never force it. I wouldn’t sacrifice the quality of my experience by sticking to cmdline utilities when I know better (and often easier to use) GUI alternatives with comparable performance exist. In case you are interested, I struck a balance on Voyager, after removing some of the bells and whistles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *