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Terminal Nerds II: Electric Boogaloo

516234_3c61dab15b_o Our post about getting started with the Terminal command line and various related discussions swirling around the site have started to produce some remarkable results.

First, our home-grown OSXCLI tag on del.icio.us has yielded a wondrous crop of links for the OSX Terminal newbies. Although the reading level does seem to be inching northward, there’s still a ton of great stuff that should help folks at many skill levels.

Also, a followup CLI discussion on the 43F Google Group has provoked some very smart people to talk about how they use their Macs. The most fascinating comes from my new favorite fake nemesis and CLI stud, John S.J. Anderson, who has posted a terrific breakdown of his setup and emacs world that you should not miss:

I’m a sysadmin and the father of a two-year old, which means my life is almost completely interrupt-driven. My system allows me to quickly capture new input as it happens, and then more fully process it later, which is key to me avoiding a complete mental meltdown. [read it all »]

There are many other highlights on the thread itself that I’ve printed out for future reference. Here are a few:

But, I just highly suggest that once you start learning to make the CLI a place you like, that looks the way you want and behaves as you want that you'll find it far less intimidating. Once you've configured your own prompt there's something of a feeling of satisfied conquest. --[restiffbard]


One thing you can do to ease the transition [into emacs] is enable some of the traditional Mac keybindings (e.g., Cmd-Q, Cmd-C/Cmd-V) by adding the following to your .emacs file... --[Christopher Elkins]

and, probably my favorite of the bunch, is this excellent introduction to UNIX and the command line, by Tim Conrad:

Probably the most important thing to understand about the way that Unix works, in general, is that it's a 'tool-based' system. Instead of doing the Microsoftian design concept, wherein a single tool does everything under the sun, there are a bunch of small tools that can be hooked together to do something complex. --[Tim Conrad]

As you can see by the inset photo, I finally took the plunge last night and picked up Stallman's very large (and surprisingly entertaining) GNU Emacs Manual. I've added this to my current Projects list, and plan to babystep my way through it over the next few months. I'll share how it goes and look forward to more of this stuff from you all. Thanks for all the pointers and do keep 'em coming.

John's picture

I guess you could see...

I guess you could see Emacs as a layer of glue on top of Unix, which is already glue. It's besides the point: Real men use ed. I first internetted with pine and tin, both wonderful programs, so I never understood what was so great about never leaving your text editor.

One other (devil's advocate) comment about text editors. All of them are designed by (duh), and most of them /for/, programmers. What exactly is the advantage of learning Vim or Emacs unless you're a coder? Once you know how to use one GUI text editor, you pretty much know them all.

I'm not a coder but I do use LaTeX almost every day and so I find many programmer-specific features very useful. But I never can foresee a time when I can recommend to non-computer nerds to give up their GUIs. I've known productive, creative people who have used OS X for years and never opened the terminal. (They change their iTune when they see how easy it is to hork music off of an iPod through it.) Is there a really a productivity increase with all of this computer magic, or is it just machismo on the part of we (I'm talking me here) literature and law students who sometimes regret we didn't go into computer science?




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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