Wednesday, January 16, 2013

See? It's a command line.

Let's jump right in. Open up your favorite web browser and what will you see? You'll see a very well disguised command line interface for your computer. The location (or address) field is a classic command line.

What are the benefits of a command line interface, as opposed to a point-and-click interface, such as a modern tablet interface? You can go from anywhere to anywhere. The command line interface is open-ended. It is ad-hoc. You can do things that you have never done before. You can do things once.

Some years ago, a certain software company predicted the demise of the command line interface. They claimed that, in the near future, the command line interface would disappear completely from your interaction with a digital device. With the introduction of the browser, some were triumphant and hailed the end of the command line interface.

But, take another look. Think about it. The location field is a command line. The protocol or scheme is the command, such as HTTP and HTTPS, FTP and FTPS. When you type a uniform resource location on a command line and press the Enter key, you are commanding the computer to do something for you, aren't you?

Since the command line has been moved to the browser, why don't we finish it? Why can't we use the classic commands in a browser? Why can't we connect to another computer and use classic commands in a browser? Enough of my rant. I have been there, done that. The CjOS project demonstrates that, not only can it be done securely, it should be done. It would enable a classic menu created from independently compiled (and simple) programs. A command would offer a list of other commands that you might want to use.

On Linux, for example, I want to use "man ifconfig" in my favorite browser and get a man page. It can be done, and it should be.

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