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The console is a text-based interface to your computer. It allows you to interact with files, folders and programs using text commands instead of windows, buttons and menus.

Video Transcript

  • 0:00

    ?music? [Deep Dive]

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    [Console Foundations] [Getting Started with the Console with Jim Hoskins]

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    Hi, I'm Jim, and we're going to be learning about the console.

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    The console is just another way to interact with your computer.

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    You really shouldn't be afraid of it. You should just try it.

  • 0:25


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    Anyway, with the console, instead of working with windows, toolbars,

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    menus, and buttons, you're just interacting with text.

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    You perform actions by writing commands,

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    and you get your information back from the computer in the form of text.

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    Why would we ever want to do this?

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    Even though it seems complex and difficult to use a text-only interfaced computer,

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    it's actually quite liberating.

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    That's because when you use the console, there's much more flexibility

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    and consistency than when you're using a graphical user interface.

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    Programs can be linked together to perform really powerful actions

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    that would be impossible to create using simple menus and buttons.

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    Why should we bother learning the console?

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    It's how we used to interact with computers, but now we have graphical interfaces

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    with desktops, menus, and windows.

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    Well, when you're programming or doing web development or design,

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    some of the tools you may use may not have a graphical interface.

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    These tools must run on the console.

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    And if you're not familiar with the console,

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    it will be a very frustrating experience.

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    Websites and web applications will be deployed on remote computers called servers

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    and most of the time, the only way to interact directly with these machines

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    is to use a command line over a remote connection called SSH.

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    The fact is, it's hard to avoid running into the console.

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    And why would you want to?

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    Once you become familiar with the environment,

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    reaching for your mouse to mess with some menu will seem like a big waste of time

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    when you could just type a couple of words and be done with it.

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    Now, I've been talking a lot about the console,

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    but we should get more specific.

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    Most operating systems actually provide a console or a command prompt

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    in some form or another.

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    Because it's just a way to interact with your computer.

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    To understand the console, is to understand your operating system better.

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    But there are so many different operating systems out there.

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    Which one should we choose?

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    Linux. Now, I hear you saying, "I don't use Linux." Hear me out.

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    You may have heard of something called Unix.

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    It's an operating system first developed in the 1960s.

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    It created a lot of great ideas on how an operating system should work.

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    More importantly, a lot of operating systems were created using the same ideas

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    and philosophies, and they mimic Unix.

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    Many of these are free and open source, unlike the original Unix,

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    and some are not.

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    Linux, or GNU/Linux to be more precise, is one of those open source descendants.

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    Now, why is Linux important to us?

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    The vast majority of servers on-line run some flavor of Linux.

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    Another operating system that is based on Unix is called Darwin.

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    Darwin is what powers Apple's Mac OS10.

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    That means nearly everything you learn about Linux will apply to Mac OS10 as well.

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    Now, there are some other operating systems like BSD and Solaris,

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    all of which share this common heritage.

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    In fact, there is a standard that these operating systems share with each other

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    called POSIX, or portable operating system interface.

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    This is a standard that makes sure that all of these different yet related operating systems

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    stay consistent to some degree.

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    So, that once you know one, you can use another.

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    This is one reason why OS10 is so popular with web developers.

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    If our apps are going to be deployed on Linux,

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    it makes sense to develop them in a similar environment.

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    Now, you could use Linux on your desktop to develop,

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    and many do--it's a great choice--

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    however, Mac OS10 provides a full POSIX compatible environment

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    and a finally tuned graphical interface to go with it.

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    Now, that brings us to Microsoft Windows.

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    Now, where does it stand?

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    Well, it's not a POSIX compatible operating system at all.

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    The way Windows works is actually quite different.

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    This makes Windows a less desirable choice when doing web development

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    because it's not compatible with the operating systems

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    that we're likely to use on her web servers.

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    Now, that's not to say you can't use it; you certainly can.

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    If you're developing with Microsoft technologies like the .net suite of tools,

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    you must use Windows.

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    Now, it has a command prompt and some of the basics appear similar

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    between Windows and POSIX compatible operating systems,

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    but those similarities are largely superficial.

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    Even if you use Windows as your personal computer,

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    it's still a huge value to learn to navigate Linux

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    because chances are, you're going to run into it sooner or later.

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    So, chances are you're not using Linux right at this moment.

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    So, how are we going to learn it?

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    Well, we've built something just for you.

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    Click the "Launch Console" button on this page.

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    It's going to open up a command line window to a Linux computer we set up for you.

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    This is a real computer running on the Internet that you can use to follow along

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    and experiment with us.

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    If you're using Mac or Linux or BSD or another POSIX operating system,

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    you can use the console on your own computer if you'd like.

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    Later on, however, we will be using some programs

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    that are specific to our flavor of Linux--Ubuntu.

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    We recommend that you follow along as well using the Treehouse console.

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    Go ahead and make sure that your Treehouse console window is open.

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    When you see the dollar sign followed by a blinking rectangle, you're ready to go.

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  • Jim Hoskins

    Jim is a full stack software developer at Treehouse. When he's not writing code, he's blogging, teaching, or speaking at conferences. On Twitter he is @jimrhoskins.