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Command Line Ninja

Hack This: Become a Command Line Assassin

No matter what kind of cluttered, icon-littered hellscape your filesystem happens to be, take heart that your computer provides a pristine alternate reality in the form of its command line interface. Essentially, this is a direct, minimal way of interacting with your computer, offering a shortcut around all of the clicking and dragging in the form of a small box that takes text-based commands and is mostly mouse-agnostic.

Using the command line is second-nature for me, almost as much so as using the regular old OSX/Windows GUIs. In developing software/programming, we wind up constantly using a lot of tiny utility applications that just don’t have graphical frontends, nor do they need them. To interact with these utilities, we use command-line interfaces, either those provided by an operating system—Terminal in OSX or just the command prompt in Windows—or something third-party, like Cygwin.

Why should you the non-hacker care about this particular functionality? For one thing, it’s a slight window into how operating systems actually work. Moreover, there are a few fairly routine tasks that can really only be done via command prompt, and, beyond that, a much larger number of small, helpful utilities that you might like to employ in your regular day-today computing, especially those relating to automation.

Let’s start small though and run through a few operating system tasks that we’d normally accomplish via the Windows or Mac GUIs—running programs and dealing with files. But first, a general orientation. Continue…

gotta love the command line, mang ;)


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