The Love Affair With The Terminal

Every time I read a forum thread where a non technical or new Linux user asks for help, somebody invariably responds with, “Open a terminal and type the following . . . .”

At that point the effort to communicate is lost. Non technical users do not use the command line. Period.

I use a terminal. Every day as I use my computers. I write shell scripts, aliases, and one liners. I understand the power of the terminal. I want access to the terminal on any system I use.

Yet I notice something unique with non technical users. When I help people often I open the terminal right in front of them. They stare like the proverbial deer in the headlight beams and they say nothing.

Absolutely nothing. They get noticeably quiet. They sit still with their hands folded on their lap.

They are afraid I am going to ask them to do the same thing. Similar to a predator in the wild, I sense their fear.

I do not ask them to open a terminal. I assure them I am not going to ask them. When I tell them this I feel them exhale in relief.

When I install systems for other people the terminal is not part of the panel or desktop. The terminal remains “hidden” in the system tools menu or equivalent.

The terminal is powerful, but I wish Linux developers understood this simple psychology.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: General, Terminal

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