I use a multitude of OSes, so I'm quite familiar with the CLI. I got berated for using the CLI to give an answer

My question:

Is there an official stance here on elementary.stackexchange.com on using/not using the CLI?

I know that there are 2 trains of thoughts:

  1. If we want to win over Windows users, we need to never give any terminal commands and only give GUI answers.

  2. We give terminal answers and only win the smart Windows users over...

but which is best for the elementary site here on stackexchange?

2 Answers 2


Especially when it comes to installing / removing software I always opt for CLI answers as the Ubuntu Software Center is the worst and apt-get commands are easy to understand even for novice users.

In many cases though there are multiple options, so why not offer both. So for your particular answer (which has happened with other answers): Offer top/htop (CLI) and Gnome System Monitor.

I only see a serious problem when commands are not clearly explained (or obvious on first sight) to the user / questioner and they start to blindly copy & paste them in Terminal. Don't expect people to have the same experience you have. Or even worse answers that instruct people to use downloaded scripts in the form of

Just wget http://example.com/install.sh -O - | sh. End of answers.

tl;dr: Use common sense, mind your audience.

  • very nice explanation. "offer both" --see an example answer, Am I doing correct? Yes I am. But I understand and need to develop here is explaining about the commands which I skip in AU . :) thank you =)
    – Ravan
    Nov 15, 2015 at 18:26
  • 1
    Regarding the edit on "profanity": Yes there is a need for it if you want to express a strong opinion in a simplistic way. This edit changes the meaning of the sentence...
    – quassy
    Nov 15, 2015 at 23:10
  • @quassy not really - it still says it's no good. Profanity is clearly not accepted on SE.
    – user3
    Nov 21, 2015 at 22:09
  • apt-get commands are easy to understand even for novice users.” Having helped a lot of novice users move to elementary OS, I have to strongly disagree with this. Many of the target audience (current Windows and macOS users) don't even know what a Terminal is. Asking them to learn that itself is a huge hurdle when they just want to know how to do something. Further, I think this answer is sorely outdated now that we have AppCenter. :) Dec 19, 2019 at 1:29
  • Well yes, at least regarding AppCenter certainly not being crappy like Ubuntu Software Center was back in the day ;)
    – quassy
    Dec 19, 2019 at 8:57

I will second Quassy's "Use common sense, mind your audience". The audience for elementary OS is overwhelmingly users who are coming from Windows and OS X. Don't confuse experience with intelligence. Knowing how to use Terminal doesn't make you any smarter than anyone else. Assume the reader is smart, but inexperienced. Remember this is a Q&A site. The reader is here because they are lost/confused and need help.

Please be very careful not to train new users to blindly copy and past Terminal commands. If you include a Terminal command as part of your directions, explain what the command does.

Remember that there is a very negative stigma about having to use Terminal. Reinforcing that stereotype is a negative reflection on the usability of elementary OS. Especially when Terminal is not actually needed to complete the task.

If it can be done without Terminal, I'd recommend giving directions without Terminal. Terminal is scary for a lot of people and at its core it is a developer tool. Kind of a silly example, but if someone asks how to rename a file, I don't think an appropriate answer is "Open up Terminal and type mv...". Just give the easy answer (hint: it doesn't involved Terminal).

  • 1
    I request you please mind your words before you type. Please re-read my question, I am asking about site stance about CLI, but your answer targetd me. "Knowing how to use Terminal doesn't make you any smarter than anyone else. ", Is it necessary?
    – Ravan
    Nov 17, 2015 at 5:29
  • Apart, rest of the answer is very well, thank you :)
    – Ravan
    Nov 17, 2015 at 5:30
  • 1
    I absolutely think it's necessary to make that distinction since you wrote "We give terminal answers and only win the smart Windows users over". However, bear in mind that I'm writing with the "royal you". Feel free to replace "you" with "one". You are not being "berated" or "targeted" because someone is responding directly to something you asked. Nov 17, 2015 at 18:15
  • 1
    Hey @Daniel, I hope I understand now, sorry--thanks for clarification. =)
    – Ravan
    Nov 18, 2015 at 2:28
  • "there is a very negative stigma about having to use Terminal" Yes, and I don't think that shying away from using it will help. As I've said before, there is more than one right answer, and if someone asks how to rename a file then I will be happy to post the terminal one, because in some situations it is better, and completeness can never be a bad thing.
    – user3
    Nov 21, 2015 at 22:11

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