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Linux command line same for all distro?

Linux command line same for all distro?

Linux command line same for all distro?


I am planning to move to Linux after MS stopped support for WinXP.

I have never used DOS, and barely use the cmd.exe command in Windwos XP, so I am not used to using text command, mainly because of the number of commands people need to memorize . But I learned that command line is an indispensable part of Linux, even though there is a so-called Windows-X GUI interface.

My question is , is it really not possible to reach the maximum potential of Linux without digging into command lines?

If it is really necessary, are all these different Linux distributions use the same set of commands?
Or each distro has their own,
Or they share most of the commands, and each distro has a little modification?

I have order Ubuntu 7.10. Before it arrives, I guess posting a question here is a good idea.


RE: Linux command line same for all distro?

Very interesting, I would like to hear what your experience with Ubuntu. But I say it's impossible not to do a few command lines. Depends on what your need is, but for my work I prefer command lines over GUI. My home, obviously I need my GUI.

RE: Linux command line same for all distro?

Technically, each linux-kernel-based distribution more than likely includes command "shells" such as bash, bourne, korn/ksh, and so on.

Generally these shells - the so-called command line - are the same when the same "shell" is used between distributions.

Thus, if you learn "bash" on one particular distribution, you should expect to understand "bash" effectively on most others...

THE TRICK is that what you use a "shell" for is normally to script for "doing stuff" on the distibution itself (i.e. file management, compiling programs, looking at network settings, securing the machine, etc.)  Each of the paths, libraries, defaults may be different for the distribution - from one distro to another.  

So, the learning curve really hits in using "bash" to perform work (say "find and remove certain files") when the location or names of the files may change from distribution to distribution.

I recommend the Advanced Bash Scripting Guide to get your feet more than wet in this area.


D.E.R. Management - IT Project Management Consulting

RE: Linux command line same for all distro?

And let's face it, you can't "reach the maximum potential" of W2K3 Server without the command lines, either.

"We must fall back upon the old axiom that when all other contingencies fail, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." - Sherlock Holmes

RE: Linux command line same for all distro?


I found this to be a very well written, easy to read, concise yet full featured tutorial on using the shell.


I'm in the same boat as you. I am a newbie with Linux but have found that it's not just reaching the full potential of Linux that prompted me to use the shell but rather, even though I'm a predominantly Windows user and thus accustomed to a GUI, some things are just plain easier and quicker to do with the shell.

Best of luck!

RE: Linux command line same for all distro?

I like to se it this way:
You can basiccaly do just the same things on the Linux desktop,
as you can in any other OS, but when you run into those
uniq situations where there's no way to "do just that" in
a GUI environment, Linux offers you the extra option
of dropping to the commandline where you (to be blunt)
can do anything!
Remember that "anything" you can do at the Linux desktop,
you can also do from the commandline.
To compare the shell of a Linux OS with  cmd.exe is like
comparing a RollsRoyce to an old bicylcle.
The shell holds alot of power, and it's there for you
to use it if you want to. But you don't have to....
Just my $0.02
winky smile

RE: Linux command line same for all distro?

What I've found in my many years of using Linux/Unix is that most of the commands will be the same across each distro and like thedaver said, across each shell.

What you will find within each distro is different tools that are installed to help the user at the command line. So for example in a Redhat Kernel you can restart the network by typing: service network restart but in Ubuntu which has a Debian kernel you'd probably have to type /etc/init.d/networking restart (honestly I have never used Ubuntu and its been a few years since I have used Debian) but you get the idea. Just slightly different, but Redhat has the commands built in to make a little easier.

Biggest thing you need to learn above all, learn VI and the basic commands for it, which are pretty much the same across all distro's. If you can learn the basics of VI you are 75% of the way home for Linux commands.

Get one of those "Linux for Dummies" or the O'Reilly books (O'Reilly has one just for VI) and they'll have the basic commands common to all distro's.


The answer is always "PEBKAC!"

RE: Linux command line same for all distro?

I strongly disagree. Forcing newbies to learn VI will probably have them leave Linux within an hour. And there is no need. Most systems come with nano, which can be used without doing a 4 year study first.

VI combines the user hostility of both edlin and wordperfect. It can do a huge lot, but you spend two full hours trying to find out how to change one character in a file.

In Ubuntu, there's a lot that you can do by mouse. But if something is wrong, you'll have to search the net and find that command-lines are a real bless. It is by far more easier to paste a few lines in a terminal than work your way through screenshots.

RE: Linux command line same for all distro?

It will be necessary to work from the command line from time to time, especially during installation and setup.

Many of the commands are similar across the distributions, but there are significant differences, especially for software installation and updating (a.k.a. "package management") and some hardware configuration issues, especially networking.  

I agree that vi is not the editor of choice for someone just starting out.  nano is much easier to use.  

RE: Linux command line same for all distro?

You may not need the command line if your installing Ubuntu.  Most of the configuration items have a GUI.  So, unless you plan on becoming a power user or converting your PC into a server you won't need the command line in Ubuntu.


RE: Linux command line same for all distro?

I've never used or have never seen Nano, in fact I never heard of it until about 2 weeks ago when I saw it being used in a VMWare class. But then, I've used VI for the last 10 years and know like the back of my hand so I guess I would have no need for it and probably why I have never heard of Nano.

You're correct that a casual home user probably wouldn't need to know VI and I guess this Nano will work for them. I still think that if you are looking to learn command line Linux, Unix or plan on doing more than casual home use, you'll still need to use & learn VI.


The answer is always "PEBKAC!"

RE: Linux command line same for all distro?

You can do most things from the GUI these days...  That said, there's a faster and better way to do a lot of more tedious tasks using the command line.  

Most distros ship with Bash as the default shell. They typically include also include sh, ksh, csh and others which some scripts may call and use (and even if they aren't installed, they should be on the disks or in the package tree for your distro.  In Ubuntu they'd be able to be retrieved using aptitude or the command-line program 'apt').


RE: Linux command line same for all distro?


Just had my Ubuntu insalled, seems like I can do pretty much everything using the graphical interface, except some system configuration. ( This is just my first impression, though.)

I am also learning how to use command lines, as many of you sugguested that they are faster and give users more control over their systems.

I have to say, being able to correctly execute some commands gave me some confidence, and a feeling of being a computer geek. ^_^

Again, thank you all for your help and comments.

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