Indexing offline CD-ROM archives

Suppose you've been good (or sort of good anyway), and you have a huge stack of CD-ROMs (or DVDs) with backups and archives of your old files. Great. But how can you find anything? I solved this problem today by making an index of all the files stored on these disks using a few simple GNU command line tools.

Why can't free software GUIs be empowering instead of limiting?

It's one of the more popular culture wars in the free software community: GUI versus CLI (graphics versus the command-line). Programmers, by selection, inclination, and long experience, understandably are attracted to textual interactions with the computer, but the text interface was imposed originally by technological limitations. The GUI was introduced as a reply to those problems, but has undergone very little evolution from 1973 (when it was invented at Xerox PARC) to today. So why can't we do better than either of these tired old systems?

The "alias" command

You almost certainly have speed dial set up on your home, office and mobile phone. It saves time, ensures against a failing memory and allows you to work smarter.

Devotees of the command line don’t have to be left out in the cold. One of the crown jewels of GNU/Linux is that every user, be he ne’er so base, has at his or her fingertips the kind of power of which even Caligula could not dream. Alright, I’m exaggerating—a little.

How to get the best out of the history command in GNU/Linux

Anybody who has used the command line extensively to navigate, understand and configure GNU/Linux will know that in the course of a few months’ work it is possible to build up an extensive history of used commands. This necessitates some pro-active management to get the best out of it. Here are some tips to make the most of the history command.

Command line media editing

This last week I've been trying my hand at a bit of DVD authoring and I thought I'd pass on everything that I've found out! A couple of the most useful tools are command line based, hence the title, but I'm also going to talk about a fantastic GUI that brings these bits and pieces together. To my horror, just as I sat down to write this I discovered Mitch Meyran had just posted a very similar blog entry! This post, however, is a bit more command line based and HOWTO-like in structure.

Who needs the command line? (Well, actually, we all do)

As you might have guessed this is going to be a brazen and shameless plug for the command line. I write it to throw in my tuppence-worth after my own Linux experiences. I am also concerned about a new generation of users coming to GNU/Linux without a proper understanding of the underlying reasons for its superiority over Windows but this not a blow by blow comparison.

User interfaces should teach, not hide

Today, I finally decided that my gVim editor needed a smaller font, and the process of getting it to work right has made me notice a fundamental flaw in the way we think about user interfaces. It’s not an innovation that you’ll get on the proprietary side of the line, because it’s an innovation required for the digital middle class of ‘user-developers’ that I mentioned last week.

Essentially it’s just this: GUIs should teach, not obfuscate or hide the underlying mechanism.

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