Full Metal Keyboards.
“This is my keyboard. There are many like it but this one is mine. My keyboard is my best friend, it is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my keyboard is useless. Without my keyboard I am useless. I must type my keyboard true, I must type more accurately than my enemy, who is trying to shut me down. I must edit him before he edits me. I will, before God I swear this creed; my keyboard and myself are defenders of my network, we are the masters of my enemy, we are the saviors of my life. So be it, until there is no enemy, but peace. Amen.” 
Now this post is really for the Support people of the IT world. As I read the more interesting comments about Linux Whines on Daneil Robitailles blog or the associated Digg comments I realised that some of the issues people have with our preffered operating system relate to “having to use the keyboard” . I have to congratulate Microsoft on doing a fantastic job of underming the value of typed console commands as an interface. Since every time I open a console window the less Linux learned will have a tendency to comment.
“Oh its DOS ?”
“It must be technical if youve got to use the keyboard”
“How can you possibly remember all those commands ?”
The speculation on the part of the observer is that opening a command line window is somehow a regression, or a step back, and that a Graphical User Interface is the final arbiter in all discussions relating to an operating systems success. This stems mostly from those days of transition from DOS to Windows when , at the time, the agreed perception was that this would somehow be more powerful and more userfriendly.
In my previous post I discussed how difficult a GUI environment is to provide remote or telephone support to. The GUI is also an incredibly distracting environment for a user struggling to complete certain tasks. Administration tasks and remote support tasks were ( and still are ) far easier to carry out at the command line providing the person on the other end can read and listen well. On the other hand the dependence on GUIs and point and click interfaces can lead to modern support staff not having a clear understanding of how to use the support tools at hand, as can be seen in the example below of a support technician attempting to use Putty to create a tunnel and connect to a remote PC .
support@server: cd \\192.168.100.112\c$
support@server: cd \\192.168.100.112
Its clear from talking to the individual that the knowledge of using a console has atrophied badly and excuses like ” I was trying various SSH commands” highlighted that he was actually out of his depth technically and it became clear when he commented how he doesnt like to use DOS. In the minds of so many potential new users the console is DOS and DOS is old this together must mean something is worse not better.
So can we reclaim the keyboard and the console as a flexible and useful tool for the modern system administrator and technical support person ? How do we educate our peers in the IT field that the command line holds much power, and as much responsibility and that it offers freedoms and opportunities not really experienced in a world constrained by a GUI ?
Certainly one of the strengths linux provides me and my clients is the reduced time it takes to login, manage, edit and respond to a series of servers from many sites and locations without the need to install remote support software ( outside of putty which travels on my usb stick ) . Attempting to remote manage multiple desktops via a gui ,let alone multiple servers, requires more effort and the subsequent bandwidth utilised often slows down the same transactions. However the idea is still firmly held that graphics is better than text and its a opinion I would like to change.
I would be interested in hearing more examples of where and when GUI or Command line has been more relevant or more useful to a either a End user or a Support person, I have my own tales and experiences but it would be interesting to hear others.
 Borrowing badly from Stanley Kubricks Classic [ Full Metal Jacket ] .