May 27, 2018

.comment: Essential Console Applications - page 4

Working Directly from the Command Line

  • June 21, 2000
  • By Dennis E. Powell

The tools I've mentioned equip the Linux user to recover from a wide variety of problems--a bad compile of a new desktop, the failure of an Internet dialer, file manipulations involving X itself that therefore ought to be done outside of X, or total loss of X itself. Combined with prudent backup of working copies of essential files, they will keep annoyances from becoming crises.

But nothing replaces easy access to knowledge. The chances are that unless you installed the bare minimum Linux distribution, you probably have a world of documentation (probably in /usr/doc, but conceivably elsewhere), very likely including versions in languages that you do not now, and have no plans to learn to, speak. And even the native language versions of much supplied documentation can be a little daunting at first.

So one of the essential Linux tools isn't on the machine at all: It's a good Linux manual. There are several, but my favorite is Running Linux from O'Reilly & Associates. It's not distribution-specific, so its wisdom applies as long as you're, well, running Linux. It's neither overly difficult nor condescending. And it will bail you out when the latest gee-whiz X program to insulate you from the command prompt has failed.

It doesn't hurt to actually commit to memory a few Linux commands. Those RPMs that you just downloaded to fix your system won't help you much if you're unfamiliar with rpm on the command line.

Together, all these things are more than a first-aid kit. They're a toolkit that can help you develop and expand your knowledge of Linux, not necessarily to mastery but to a greater level of comfort. Which is a nice step toward the self sufficiency that once upon a time Linux was all about.

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