Using the GUI as much as possible in answers and only using the terminal unless absolutely necessarily helps new users.

Including both ways is good, but by only using the terminal while there is a way to do it with the GUI too, reinforces the myth that Ubuntu (or any other GNU/Linux distribution) is a difficult to use OS which requires you to type in commands all the time (which can slow adoption of it).

  • 4
    "...you reinforce the myth that Ubuntu (or any other GNU/Linux distribution) is a difficult to use..." Entering commands in a terminal doesn't necessarily imply difficulty. "...'DOS-ish' commands..." The Unix terminal long predates DOS. Commented May 17, 2013 at 18:21
  • 2
    – Mateo
    Commented May 17, 2013 at 18:22
  • @NathanOsman DOS is the best-known GUI-less operating system, when people think of commandlines there's a pretty big chance they associate with DOS, which is why I say 'DOS-ish' here.
    – jobukkit
    Commented May 17, 2013 at 18:33
  • I actually agree with com. BOY on the fact that we should offer GUI solutions where possible, along with commandline options where possible.
    – RolandiXor
    Commented May 17, 2013 at 19:45
  • I agree, a good way to help is to add screenshots to answers that don't have GUI answers in them. Commented May 18, 2013 at 2:28
  • 2
    You are just adding to the "myth" by saying we should avoid command-line answers. When in reality the power of the terminal is one of the major reasons it is better than windows.
    – Mateo
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 15:57
  • @mateo_salta I'm not saying we should completely avoid the commandline, I'm saying that if there is also a GUI way of doing it, it's best to include them both.
    – jobukkit
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 16:19
  • 1
    @mateo_salta You're just adding to the myth that people need to learn the terminal to use their computer. Commented May 19, 2013 at 14:25
  • I strongly disagree that the preference should be to a GUI solution with "only using the terminal unless absolutely", and the claim that this helps new users. It may help a subset of new users, but the terminal is preferred by many people (including new users of Ubuntu) and is much easier option for any automation/scripting of tasks.
    – wim
    Commented May 30, 2013 at 3:25

6 Answers 6


We should not, and will not, enforce a policy of one way or the other. It's impossible. People will provide whatever answer they feel comfortable with, you can vote on which one you think is better. Obviously, if you want more votes you'd want to provide a comprehensive answer and that may include both a Command Line and Graphical way to tackle a problem. That, however, is up to the author of the answer not something for policy.

  • 6
    Voting for which one you think is better does not include downvoting CLI only answers though just because they use the CLI. I don't think anyone would do that, but still..
    – Seth
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 0:59

In order for an answer to use the GUI, it requires that the answerer knows various things, including:

  • The Ubuntu flavor the asker uses. ("KDE, Unity or good ol' GNOME?")
  • What other programs are installed. ("Is Synaptic available?")

Commands largely don't need that. They are in many cases rather universal.

Also: What if the GUI is sluggish, but a short command would already solve the problem?

Ubuntu server doesn't have a GUI either - doesn't mean the Question couldn't also be useful there.

To sum it up: It's not viable to focus on the GUI, if there is a solution via commands. Both would be nice, but we should not tell people "Provide a GUI solution!".

  • Huh. Why does Ubuntu need a special flavor with no GUI? In Debian, we just don't install GUI stuff if we don't want it ...
    – SamB
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 19:13
  • ... and it's not like you need to have a monitor attached to use GUI stuff, anyway.
    – SamB
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 19:14

The great thing about Ubuntu is the power of the command line. Sometimes a single command can accomplish a multi-step process in the GUI. To use Ubuntu proficiently and to it's full potential, you have to use the command line.

  • Most users are not power users, and don't want or need to use it at it's full potential. I rescue old computers for senior users who only want the very basics, and all of them are very happy. I teach my senior students how to search for help and they usually end up in sites like Stack Exchange. I do agree that a command line is both simpler and more powerful, but it looks menacing, and novices need to feel safe in order to experiment and learn.
    – quarkex
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 12:27

It's not really a question (more like a community bulletin), but there are two sides to this one. Using the gui is great and should be encouraged for at least one answer on a question.

On the other hand, I REALLY like answers that are simple one-liners as well.

Example of a question with both answers (disclosure, one of them is mine).

  • I prefer your answer to the linked question. Why would you want to install another program which you will probably only run once when you can achieve what you want without installing anything and running a single command in a terminal. Commented May 18, 2013 at 17:07
  • ... as long as the one-liners come with decent explanations ...
    – SamB
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 19:16

I usually write answers in two levels:

  1. The general idea of how to solve the problem
  2. A practical way to do #1 either in GUI or command line, usually adjusted to the asker's environment and/or comfort level with command line vs the added complexity of describing steps in GUI (vs copy-paste these incantations).

Users that uses different DE or shell or text editor can follow #1; while less savvy users can follow the more detailed steps on #2.


We should not be ashamed of the command line and it's often the easiest way of doing something.

The Linux command line is very powerful and while I don't believe we should be giving the impression that real users only use the command line we shouldn't shy away from it either.

In most cases the command line way of doing something will work the same across all supported versions of Ubuntu irrespective of the desktop installed (Unity, Gnome Classic, KDE, XFCE, LXDE) and will also work on the Server release. It also the case that it probably doesn't matter if the questioner is using 12.04, 12.10 or 13.04; the answer will probably still be valid when we are running 14.10 or even later.

In contrast the same task on two different versions / revisions may be significantly different using the GUI.

Consider for example installing some software using the GUI on Lubuntu 12.04 or Ubuntu 13.04. The exact steps are different in Lubuntu you find Software Center in the menu while in Ubuntu you search in the dash for it.


sudo apt-get install some_package

Works everywhere. It's good to give a GUI method too when it's easy to do it via the GUI however.

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