Fw: [clug] beginners path

David Tulloh david at tulloh.id.au
Fri Apr 24 09:28:31 GMT 2009

Dave Upton wrote:

> I have found answers to problems I have faced such as getting my mic to work but the solutions I find tell me to open a terminal and then type one or several lines of commands and hey presto it works.  I have no idea why or how or what I typed but it works.  Nice but I like to know what I did and why so if faced with a similar problem I just might be able to nut out the solution.

That is a nice request and it should be easy to pick up enough to look 
up the commands.

Each line of commands runs one or more programs.
The typical command line is a command followed by arguments to that command.
Commands may be linked using |, this takes the output of the command on 
the left of the | and makes in the input to the command on the right of 
the |.
The output may be redirected to a file using >, this places the output 
from the command into the filename on the right of the > symbol.
That should be 90% of what you see, there is a lot more possible, the 
command line you use is (probably) bash so if you want to learn more 
look for bash tutorials online.
The bash manual is not very helpful to learn from so try and avoid it.

All of the commands that you run will be documented.
You can pull up the help for a command using the man command on the 
command line, `man man` for details of what it does and how it works.
Most commands will also give you basic help like what arguments mean if 
you call the command with --help, so `man --help`.
Searching for the command's name online will probably also give you some 
information or at least it's man page.

Most of the commands use a similar syntax for arguments and more complex 
chained commands tend to use the same pieces like grep or sed.  Once you 
get a handle on a few commands you will probably find others become more 

The mastery comes from learning more commands that are available and 
different ways that they can work.  That's why you occasionally see 
requests for a better solution to a problem with people debating 
different approaches.  It's also why so many people bring notebooks to 
Tridge's talks.


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