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4.1. Working with the Command Line Interface

This section deals with working in a console mode or with a terminal (such as Xfce terminal, xterm, konsole and so forth), and serves merely as a light introduction to the command line interface (CLI). The intended audience here is not seasoned travelers but new journeymen in the land of Linux, who are willing to discover more about what one can do with it. We will go through some examples in this section for you to follow, and hopefully by the end of this walkthrough, you will have no problem working with the "black screen". For those who would like to know more about CLI, there are a couple of useful resources available on the net, and some are listed in the Salix Forum.

So why learn CLI commands at all? Graphical user interfaces for applications have been steadily improving in Linux and are probably now comparable to any OS in their ease of use. On the other hand, where Linux excels, in particular, is in the area of command line applications, its traditional strength. Without the CLI, you would be effectively missing out on half of what Linux can offer.

There is another reason. From time to time, you might have to work in the console. For instance, if the machine fails to start up a graphical desktop environment during booting, then you are more or less forced to fix the problem without the graphical user interface (GUI).

Of course, there are many other reasons to learn CLI commands, but for now we will start by learning how to move around directories.

First, open up a terminal or move to a console: you can do the latter by pressing Ctrl+Alt+F2, for example. To get back to the graphical desktop, press Alt+F4, for example. F number keys are used to switch between consoles; if F4 or F7 doesn't do the trick, try others.

However, the simplest option is to open a terminal within the GUI: there is probably an option to do so in the panel, or if not, in the menu.