Linux is Hard!

Or is it just different?

People used to walk everywhere, which is pretty easy, right? Unless of course you can’t walk, but let’s not be too pedantic here. Eventually, most of us learned to drive or ride a motorbike. Is that inherently easy? Could ease ever be described as something that needs contrast to be so?

I’ve always said that Linux has a steep learning curve, or something to that effect. I appreciate that about Linux now. Yes, it can be a tough nut to crack, particularly when compared to the likes of Windows and Mac. I know it sucks when things don’t work, but guess what, they can get it wrong too.

It took me a while to realise this myself, but a heck of a lot of people go into Linux with Windows firmly in mind, expecting it to be Windows, however, it’s a totally different operating system; an entirely different platform! That’s like stepping into a car and expecting it to drive like a motorbike.

I watched a video recently of a guy raging because he couldn’t deal with Linux not working as he expected. I’m not going to spout nonsense about how Linux always works or something, because the truth is it can be a major PITA. That said, this comes to mind:

“You are like this cup; you are full of ideas. You come and ask for teaching, but your cup is full; I can’t put anything in. Before I can teach you, you’ll have to empty your cup.” – Master Ryutan.

Granted, you can’t really get a fair chance to mess with your cup if the thing doesn’t even work at all, which is why it took a while to get to the point at which I could learn all this stuff and get so involved with GNU/Linux, as some people insist on calling it.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully accept and understand that it’s not everyone’s idea of fun to fill your screen with virtual terminals and type out command after command. I know many people feel typing jargon is like going back to the days of MS-DOS, when such apparent gibberish meant you got something done.

Well, you still can get things done, and far more efficiently — why do you think the Linux command line has survived all this time, even in the age of such excessive hand-holding like the so-called “free” Windows 10? Your games and programs were created from lines and lines of code, or a program with a UI made from yet more lines and lines of code.

I loved Windows for years, but Windows 10 was the final straw. Ultimately, Micro$oft and Mac lock you down, but, provided it works on your hardware, then Linux will set you free. Is that always a good thing? No, as there are many opportunities to screw up if you overlook something, especially for a “power user” like me who loves to tinker and tweak.

I hope Linux will continue to mature and rise up to the challenge of appealing more to those whom refuse to use a terminal and want a more “user-friendly” environment. I want those things too — I’d love not to need the terminal for anything, and that’s coming from someone who loves it! I want the option not the necessity to use it.

Linux has achieved a lot, but there’s still quite the journey ahead for desktop users.

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Discovering Linux Commands

I’m reminded of the early stages of language learning; like when I was learning words the likes of die Katze and der Hund in German. It’s quite exciting. Of course, instead of German, it’s computer jargon!

I’ve been quite busy again today, trying to shovel more commands into my brain; really exercising that wonderful hippocampus. My focus for a large part of the day was both security and seeing what Mint 18 with the XFCE desktop environment is like. I wasn’t disappointed.

I now have a much firmer grasp of WAN security. Not in a super-scientific way, but an in-depth look into wifi security without crunching numbers and eating computer science books.

I again looked into Kali Linux (an OS used to test systems and their security) and learned about the little CLI program called wifite which, it turns out, can be installed from the default Mint 18 repositories, and I assume also the PeppermintOS 7 ones.

As for now, I discovered a document online (the link to which I’ve sadly lost) which shows rather a lot of Linux commands, however outdated they may now be. I’m able to tote the incredibly intelligent cal and date commands. However, something occurred to me: would it be possible to insert two commands at once? As it turns out, the answer is yes.

If you type > between commands, you can output the data into a file. If you type | between commands, you can “pipe” the command into another command (such as less) which is very handy for commands that have a rather large output.

Armed with this knowledge, it occurred to me that another similar symbol would suffice for typing in multiple commands. It wasn’t long before I stumbled onto the semi-colon. If you type, for example, cal ; time into the Terminal, it’ll indeed run both commands at the same time. Bonus! Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work for 3 or more commands at once.

The oft used sudo apt-get install, sudo apt-get remove, sudo apt-get autoremove, and sudo add-apt-repository ppa:[name] commands are mostly seared onto my head now, thankfully. I remember hating the need to ever type in all that when installing and uninstalling a program; it doesn’t really bother me now.

As I understand it, when you want to install a program that isn’t in your repository, the process is as follows:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:[name]
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install [name]

Usually at this point, it’ll be done and dusted, but in some cases you may need or want to update the program you downloaded, if for some reason it doesn’t come  updated. As for uninstalling, this is my usual method of choice, although I’d like to incorporate the –purge bit at some point:

sudo apt-get-remove [name]
sudo apt-get autoremove
sudo add-apt-repository -r ppa:[name]

Of course, if there was no need to add a special repository for the program, you can just ignore the add-apt-repository part. This is what works for me, but I’m lead to believe –purge goes above and beyond the call of duty to clean your system of a program.

You can just skip all the sudo-ing and start the commanding with sudo su, to permanently log in as Root (at least in that session) with an exit command to leave, but I’m advised against doing so as it can apparently be dangerous.

I’m getting tired typing all this out, so I’ll continue this in the next entry! I’m looking forward to some day reading all this again, then laughing at my relative Noob status.

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