Tech Support via CLI

Recently, I installed Linux Mint 9 LTS "Isadora" GNOME on the computer of a relative (who shall be known for the rest of this article as $relative). After the installation, we both got busy with things, so I couldn't properly configure stuff to $relative's liking post-installation, so I gave tech support for configuring stuff at home.

The thing is, $relative has never used a CLI before; $relative has previously only used Microsoft Windows and has never touched its command prompt. Although I'm continually becoming more comfortable with the CLI, I still retain a certain fondness, familiarity, and comfort with GUIs, as I was bred on Microsoft Windows as well until I was told about Linux Mint over two years ago. Yet, as I was giving tech support to $relative over an online chat, I felt far more comfortable giving CLI tech support, and I find this sort of ironic, if nothing else.

Why? Both I and $relative, as I said earlier, are far more comfortable with GUIs. Yet if I wanted to give tech support for GUIs, I'd need to know stuff like exactly what applications to use, exactly what the menu and button structures are like, and exactly what errors would commonly come up. With a CLI, I'd just ask $relative to copy the commands I type into the chat box verbatim into the terminal, and copy back any errors output. And despite having never used a terminal before, $relative did it all with ease, and it was all working perfectly. And that's what's great about Linux now; it's easy, flexible, and extraordinarily powerful all in one, and users now don't have to deal with that immense power if they really don't want to.