The command line has a special relationship with the sysadmin. No other tool carries the same level of significance or prestige as the command line. A complete mastery of the art of the command line is a rite of passage for most systems administrators. Many sysadmins think less of other sysadmins that use a “GUI” and call GUI administration a crutch. This may not be completely fair, but it is a commonly held belief for true mastery of the art of system’s administration.
For the longest time, Unix systems embraced the philosophy that the command line interface (CLI) was far superior to any GUI that could be developed. In a recent turn of events, it seems like Microsoft has also gotten back to its roots. Jeffrey Snover, architect of Windows Powershell, said, “It was a mistake to think that GUIs ever would, could, or even should, eliminate CLIs.”
Even Windows, which has had the poorest CLI of any modern OS for decades, now recognizes the value of the CLI in its current Windows PowerShell implementation. We will not be covering Windows in this book, but it is a very interesting fact that cements just how important mastering the command line and command-line tool creation really is.
There is more to the story, though, than just mastering prebuilt Unix command-line tools. To really become a master at the command line, you need to create your own tools, and this may be the sole reason you picked up this book in the first place. Don’t worry, this chapter ...