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DR-DOS, Plan, BSD, Sun Solaris, HP/UX, OpenServer.....and so on.

Why high-tech OSs (like UNIX family) are mostly command based (rather than GUI based)?

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migrated from Nov 28 '11 at 16:31

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

closed as off topic by Mark Trapp Nov 28 '11 at 16:39

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also I believe this question place is programmers of servers.stack – alonisser Nov 28 '11 at 12:29
Are you implying that other OSs are low tech ? – Nasreddine Nov 28 '11 at 16:08
I'm not sure why this was migrated here, but speculating about design decisions for operating systems isn't really a topic about software development, and it's really not clear what distinction you're trying to make. – user8 Nov 28 '11 at 16:39
up vote 14 down vote accepted
  1. GUI is more difficult to build than CLI (command line interface).
  2. CLI is easier to agree on standards, as it's much simpler.
  3. GUI requires a graphical subsystem (more hardware and software components on servers which don't need it at all).
  4. CLI is easier to automate (scripts), simplifies administration.
  5. CLI allows express much more commands than GUI. E.g. my linux has 3500 commands, each of them has a lot of parameters. Do you imagine how complex the GUI would be? Much more complex than Microsoft Word.
  6. Less traffic to transfer when you need manage remote servers (more responsive on slow networks).
  7. Easier to communicate about CLI commands than buttons/menus/inputs/etc. Much more easier to send a command line text than bunch of screenshots.
  8. CLI allows compose commands easier. So you could an output from one command feed into an another command, and usually it works out-of-box. For GUI one thing is only clipboard, and maybe some technologies as OLE, ActiveX, etc, it works much worse than simple CLI text passing.
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Try explaining in an email, or by phone, how to interact with a GUI.

Try explaining in an email, or by phone, how to interact with a command line. It is considerably easier: you could copy & paste the command inside the email.

(Variant, try to explain by email or by phone how to lace your tie or your boots)

Our brains work well on languages, including textual formal ones like command lines.

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I'd say that it's because they expect their users to invest the time and resources it takes to learn the command line. After that, the command line gives you power to express actions, which may be much more time-consuming with a GUI (e.g. "change all users with email from "" to inactive"). A bash prompt is much faster than a mouse, when you know how to use it.

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Agree with Vladislav, the use of the command line gives the administrator the power to do almost everything, the only problem with the commands are that you have to know them and the GUIs are much more Instinctive, but most of the time you have to navigate throw windows to reproduce a simple command line...

After you know the commands, its really practical to use them...

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