recently two of my rejects were rejected on the basis of "removing important information in favour of one-click installs" and "removing content that has value to people who like the command line (geeks like me)" since i replaced

Add the PPA (more detailed instructions)

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-mozilla-daily/ppa sudo apt-get update

Now you can install Firefox 4 with the following command sudo aptitude install firefox-4.0


First Add the PPA (How to add a PPA) ppa:ubuntu-mozilla-daily/ppa then install firefox-4.0 by clicking here or from the software center.

i only changed the command line to gui which retained all its functionality and added user-friendliness


Ubuntu is an end-user operating system used by everyday people who are not typically interested in hacking around a kernel, nor configuring a large collection of tools, projects and packages, nor citing documentation references and command line arguments.

then user-friendliness should be a priority to values of a command-line geek.

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    (rant:) It's a common, foolish misconception, that command-line arguments are hard to learn, complicated the use, voodoo or rocket science. It is often the easiest way to reach a goal, and ubuntu shouldn't hide this convenient stuff. Nor should we, the users. Commented Mar 16, 2011 at 15:37
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    i use the terminal and know that command-line arguments are not difficult but it is also not meant for the end-user who wants to use the computer without knowing how it works.
    – Lincity
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 4:55
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    That's such a typical answer! If you insert an ls-command or ls -l you don't know more about the computer as somebody, who knows where to click into the gui, to get the checkbox for 'hidden files'. And your language assumes a master, who tells the people who shall use what. Of course the shell is meant for end-users, and I am an end user. And never ever I heard from a developer who restricted the shell to experts only. Nobody is a born expert. Of course the shell was meant for end users! Of course! Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 5:01
  • you are wrong a person using the 'ls -l' command knows more about the computer than the person who clicks thorugh the gui because the gui is iniutive and you can open a folder without knowing anything about the computer but with command-line you have to learn everthing and then you can use it.
    – Lincity
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 5:12
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    No, that is wrong. You need to know which icon means 'folder' and that you may click on them, draw them. You have to learn that as well. Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 5:47
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    I don't recommend using apt.marcoceppi.com (but flattered) for APT URLs it's designed for a prototype during it's review by the Ubuntu Server team for acceptance as a replacement for apt.ubuntu.com Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 18:00
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    (rant): It's a common, fooolish misconception, that people need to learn to use a command line interface to use their computer. Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 18:11
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    Jorge -- You forgot to add "at least, as long as everything is working, and you don't want to do anything that hasn't been programmed into your GUI" at the end.
    – J. Taylor
    Commented Mar 18, 2011 at 23:29
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    Interestingly, some "developers" like to use GUI tools (IDEs, GUIs for VCS, ect...) and some "end-users" like to manage their systems via the command line. Commented Mar 19, 2011 at 18:01
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    My two cents, for what it's worth. TL;DR: While it is crucial that command-line methods be available to enthusiasts, everyday Ubuntu users should never need to know them.
    – ændrük
    Commented Mar 20, 2011 at 5:39
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    Removing CLI approaches should never be done -- that's the only way that you can write scripts to automate system admin. tasks. They are the quickest, and most generally useful, and are no more difficult than learning to click through a series of dialogs.
    – J. Taylor
    Commented Mar 20, 2011 at 21:48

8 Answers 8


When I write answers I do one click things and then add the geek stuff at the bottom of the answers in a sort of "and for those of you who like to copy and paste have this part too."

I would say an ideal answer would have both, but present the GUI-friendly way first, and the CLI way as a reference at the bottom.

Editing out the PPA text instructions is probably not a good edit, as by definition adding and managing PPAs is expert territory so we might as well give them all the instructions.

It also depends on the question. If someone is asking how to do something graphically then I just do it with screenshots. If it's something server related then it would be reversed, you would probably favor a CLI answer.

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    Furthermore the site's about says: "This is a free, community driven Q&A for Ubuntu users and developers..." Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 18:01

I agree with Jorge. His was the stance I took when I rejected the edits (Alaukik already knows this because I emailed him, prompting this thread).

I think there's too much value in both methods to just edit one out in favour of the other. Command line geeks like myself find it much easier to smack their terminal-launching-shortcut and start pasting things in than:

  • Going to the Software Centre (which takes a good 30 seconds for some unknown reason)
  • Clicking the Edit menu
  • Clicking Software Sources...
  • Typing the password
  • Clicking the Other Software tab
  • Clicking Add...
  • Pasting in the line
  • Clicking Close
  • Clicking Reload
  • And then searching the Software Centre to install something

There's also more thinking involved. With UI instructions I either have to know what to do or read through something like the above. With command-line instructions I can blindly force them into a terminal without a single thought other than loading the terminal followed by copying and pasting. Yeah, that isn't always a good thing.

I respect that I'm probably not in a majority here but I really would prefer it that if somebody wants to edit something to add a graphical way, they also maintain the non-graphical method.

You also have to be conscious that AskUbuntu caters to an increasing population of administrators who administer their servers and remote desktops with SSH. If you edited out the CLI method, you're making things harder for these people too.

Your edits are high quality so I plea this doesn't deter you from making more in the future, you just need to be careful you're not breaking more than you fix when doing it.

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    Sometimes the gui is slow, inefficient, confusing, and the wrong choice. Your software installation example is excellent. Explaining to a newbie how to install software via gui is exhausting to write, and also to read. I don't want to see every answer the involves a software install filled with Synaptic screenshots.
    – djeikyb
    Commented Mar 16, 2011 at 10:33
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    but you just have to link to how to add the ppa answer (askubuntu.com/questions/4983/…)
    – Lincity
    Commented Mar 16, 2011 at 11:37

askubuntu should neither be targetted towards GUI nor the command line. It should be targeted towards optimal and comprehensive solutions to the problems people are asking question about. If there is both a GUI and a CLI solution, we should share both. If the best solution is a CLI solution, that's what people should get, if the best one is a GUI solution, that's what people should use. We can't make blanket rules like "we should avoid command line" or "command line is more powerful than GUI" -- it depends on the problem, and the question poster's personal preferences.

That said, it's absurd to say that we should avoid the CLI on a Linux forum. However terrifying you think it is to type, it's a necessary part of using a Linux system any time that (a) you have a problem, and there isn't a GUI solution to fix it (b) you need to do anything that's not programmed into your GUI.

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    Another important thing to keep in mind is that understanding how to use the command line is extremely useful for when you want to write scripts to automate system administration tasks.
    – J. Taylor
    Commented Mar 20, 2011 at 21:45
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    I think his question has more to do with desktopy things than avoiding CLI all together, it would be impossible to answer server questions otherwise. Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 14:06
  • I don't think a GUI solution is particularly compelling unless the tool in question is useful enough that one would tend to use it regardless of what DE (if any) one has. Tools that come to mind are: gitk, kcachegrind, gparted, wireshark ...
    – SamB
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 19:23

I also agree with Jorge and Oli.

There is also another aspect I'd like to highlight. By leaving a command line solution in the answer you give users, willing to learn more ways to manage their system, a change to do it.

If this site is meant to be a comprehensive knowledge base for Ubuntu users - which in my view it is - then we should give our best to add as much information as possible.


I use http://askubuntu.com over http://unix.stackexchange.com because Ubuntu does so many things differently than other distros. By and large I prefer the command line, though I still value GUI interfaces.

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    would you agree, that it is a wrong dichotomy 'end-user' vs. 'commandline-user' (leaving the geek away. There are gimp-geeks, oocalc-geeks and such as well). Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 1:27

Some tasks could easily be done in a terminal whereas GUI solutions don't work. In this cases GUI-only users or beginners may be led to unneccesarily complicated procedures. This question is a good example for this.

We should take care to make CLI solutions acceptable for beginners in explaining exactly what to do. Still there will be people that simply refuse to use the command line.


I agree with Jorge, askubuntu.com should be tailored to serve both user types. I'd recommend providing a marker/ visual prompt to distinguish between technical questions and regular questions in the question listings.

  • Well if a person wants a GUI only answer they can ask for that in their question, and if they want a CLI answer they can tag it or ask for it in the questions, so we kind of already seperate them out. It's for when people are ambiguous that's the issue. Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 22:01
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    By default it should be safe to mark ambiguous questions as a 'GUI answer required type' since it caters for both user types. There will be false positives using this plan, I think the frequency will be minimal. Moderators can then sort out the outliers by modifying the question tag. Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 15:56

I think, that command line geeks are making new users feel uncomfortable. While I agree that it's easyer to copy/paste, it stops new users from getting knowledge about how system works.

For example, nobody explained me how to add repositories myself. There were situations when you see the address. You search google "how to add repositories on Ubuntu" and they all give you command line solutions. Then you try using them and fail. After that you simply give up, because the program you want to install isn't worth so much time.

However, if people would as well give a GUI solution, I could have learned that you can add repositories through software center app. That is a real problem.

Moreover, if Ubuntu wants to be popular, geeks should stop making everyone scared of the command line. I know it is useful, but somehow I have no idea on how to use it properly without instructions. It isn't explained anywhere.

Sorry for my English. Somehow this text got messy for me...

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