Tips for installing windows and freeBSD both.. anyone??

Chad Perrin perrin at
Fri Nov 12 18:18:30 UTC 2010

On Fri, Nov 12, 2010 at 09:54:57AM -0800, Rob Farmer wrote:
> On Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 23:16, Chad Perrin <perrin at> wrote:
> > It sounds like in some respects we're violently agreeing with each other.
> > On one hand, I think that CLI programs can be great for frequent tasks,
> > especially if you have something like the Unix pipeline at your disposal
> > to automate complex tasks, and that GUIs have some discoverability
> > advantages; on the other hand, you think that GUI programs can be great
> > for cases where someone does not want to take the time to learn a better
> > way to do something, perhaps because he does not perform the tasks very
> > often, but if you do something often enough it might make sense to learn
> > a more efficient CLI-based way to do it.
> >
> > Another difference in our apparent approaches to this is that I think
> > it's a good idea to favor CLI tools when at all reasonable to do so,
> > while you seem to think it's a good idea to favor GUI tools when at all
> > reasonable to do so.  We agree on the extremes, but not in the middle, in
> > other words.  I just wish that we could agree without it feeling like
> > you're trying to convince people they shouldn't ever bother learning how
> > to use CLI tools unless they absolutely have to.
> Well, I think to some extent we are considering two different sets of
> people. If a programmer or sysadmin doesn't use the CLI, they probably
> aren't very good at their job, since they are missing out on a lot of
> tools. I was thinking more generally about end-users, who tend to be
> very reluctant to use the CLI (the whole there's a big black box, what
> do I do now? thing is intimidating) and it is usually more trouble
> than it is worth to convince them to use the CLI, even if it would
> make their jobs easier.

I was trying to consider *everybody* who uses a computer heavily in
day-to-day life.  Yes, I agree that many end users are very reluctant to
use CLI tools.  I tend to feel, however, that instead of avoiding
mentioning such tools and just steering people toward GUI tools all the
time, it is in everybody's best interest to at least make the benefits of
CLI tools more widely known so that those who could benefit from them
(even if they are reluctant to do so) will know the reasons the option
might be a good one.

Perhaps even more importantly, in cases such as the cited example of
someone who managed to get a business process changed so that it
negatively affected several other workers' efficiency and that of the
business as a whole, such a net loss in productivity might have been
avoided if the decision-makers there were more aware of the potential
benefits of using CLI tools, and of the fact that GUI tools are not
necessarily better just because they're GUI tools.  Middle managers and
executives, even if they never *touch* the CLI tools themselves, need to
be educated about the value of CLI tools for those who perform daily
automation tasks so that they will not ignorantly approve using the wrong
tool for the job, as in the preceding anecdote.

If, because we know them to be reluctant to use CLI tools, we take pains
to never expose decision-makers to knowledge of any benefits of using
tools other than the *wrong* tools for certain jobs, we are essentially
guaranteeing that when the time comes for a decision to be made, the only
decision they will make is the one that makes things worse for us (where
"us" is the technically inclined workforce that is directly affected by
these decisions) and for the business.

> Most general computer users will never give up the GUI, because it
> involves investing in computer skills and they don't see that as
> terribly worthwhile - they just want to get started on their work. I
> think some UNIX fans are reluctant to accept this, and in doing so
> limit its ability to grow. That's my reason for preferring GUI in most
> situations.

Nobody has to "give up the GUI".  Even the heavy use of CLI and other TUI
tools in my life tends to be wrapped in a window manager, with occasional
GUI applications scattered throughout.  Even the simple green bar across
the top of my screen (which changes to blue and red when the laptop is
unplugged) that indicates battery life is a GUI application, and I find
it quite valuable for those occasions when I run my laptop without AC

By the way, if you want to see what I mean about that battery life
indicator, a screenshot of the laptop screen with the battery life bar
(provided by sysutils/xbattbar from ports) is available here:

It's quite thin, and does not show up well in that image, but it is
somewhat more obvious on my laptop display.

Moving on . . .

I'm perfectly willing to accept that some people absolutely refuse to
learn more than the bare minimum to do their jobs, with no concern for
efficiency, productivity, or quality of work beyond a bare minimum.  I do
not think that those who might have a deeper interest in improving their
productivity should be kept in the dark as part of that larger set of end
users, however.

Give everyone the opportunity to learn a little about the fact that
choosing either TUI or GUI tools can actually be a trade-off in the
benefits of the selected tools, and that for some tasks and in some
circumstances one interface might prove more appropriate than the other,
then let *them* decide which they want to use.  In some cases more
importantly, this may give them enough of an understanding of the
situation that when they're decision-makers in their organizations, they
might let *others* decide what tools to use, based on those others'
expertise, rather than forcing GUI tools down the throats of those who
have to live with that decision on a daily basis, in a very direct

That's why I do not think it is a good idea to avoid any mention of CLI
tools, and other TUI programs, even when discussing things with end users
who are unlikely to use CLI tools themselves.  It is, to a significant
degree, a matter of self-defense.

Chad Perrin [ original content licensed OWL: ]
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