The Linux terminal – Outliving its relevancy?

A friend of mine recently published a post in which he opined that the Linux terminal not be shown to the uninitiated newbie. His post generated a lot of debate. I for one, agreed with his post and will now go further to say that the Linux terminal or command line interface has outlived its relevancy and needs to be relegated to the backseat.
I strongly believe – and so do most non-geek Linux users- that there was a time when the terminal was a very vital component of Linux: a time when Linux was mainly a hobbyist OS that was used by only geeks, most of whom disliked anything remotely akin to graphics. However, in today’s OS world, Linux is being placed and marketed as an alternative to market leader Windows. This then calls into question certain things that worked in the past but may be a hindrance today, and one of such things is the relevancy of the terminal.
The terminal is a great and easy way to get things done fast in Linux no doubt. But if Linux is competing against giants like MS Windows and Mac OS, both of whom have succeeded in relegating the terminal to the backseat, what then are the chances of Linux if it in some way depends largely on the terminal to get things done?
The people that find the terminal very challenging to use are the majority of computer users that Linux needs to make any headway in the market. I believe you know a lot of people like that. Their needs must seriously be considered if they are ever to think of making the switch over to Linux (that is if it can meet their needs).

I am not saying that the terminal be done away with completely. No, and I know you don’t think so either (it’s not even possible). But rather it should be made such that it is used by those who want to use it and not because it is a necessary part of the OS. In other words, it should be there for the terminal dieharders who want to keep doing things the terminal way, but at the same time very irrelevant to those who love icons and clicking ( myself included).

It is very funny and at the same time frustrating when -and I know you have experienced it before- we tout Ubuntu as being very easy to use,  yet when a newbie sometimes needs to get some things done, the first help instruction given is open the terminal. What?! But I thought they said Ubuntu is easy to use! Well yes just type ‘sudo’ bla bla bla. Come on.

The terminal has simply outlived its relevancy and has to be relegated as soon as possible. It is a big obstacle in the wider adoption of Linux among everyday computer users that just need their machines to do simple things. Why suffer these people with the language of the geeks?

Do you think the terminal is that relevant today or that it should be relegated to the back seat? I wonder what your views are.

4 apps new Ubuntu users should not do without

The amount of applications available in the Ubuntu repositories can sometimes be overwhelming for a new user who is used to scouring the net for very simple applications to run on their Windows platform. To make things simple for such users, I have compiled this short list of four applications that new users should start their Ubuntu life with whiles they get used to the abundance of programs they lacked in Windows.
App 1 VLC
This is simply the player that rules the rest. The trail blazer when it comes to media players. With its own internal codecs and the ability to play virtually any file format known to everyday people, I strongly recommend new users install this app so as to reduce the frustrations they have to go through to install multimedia codecs in Ubuntu. A full list of the features and file formats playable by VLC can be found here. To install the latest release nicknamed the Goldeneye, just follow these simple steps and you are done!
App 2 K3B
 I know a lot of people will disagree with my choice of disc burner but I believe this application is the best available to the Linux platform and I highly recommend it to new users. It is a KDE app that also runs flawlessly on GNOME and has all the features new users  might be used to in proprietary counterparts. The default Ubuntu installation comes with Brasero which is also a disc burner way behind K3B. Just go to Applications>Add/Remove and search for K3B. Mark it and hit apply changes.
App 3 Skype
You probably know Skype if you are an ex-Windows user. Well it’s available on the Linux platform and you can download the .deb file here. I recommend it because so far I do not know of any Open Source application that can really replace Skype. Just double click the downloaded file to install it. 
App 4 Deluge
There are other alternatives, but to me, Deluge is the best Bittorrent client available for Ubuntu and I am still wondering why it is still not the default torrent client. It has every feature to make your torrent downloads a breeze and enjoyable experience. It also is very economical in terms of resource consumption. Go to Applications>Add/Remove, search for Deluge and mark for installation. That’s it.
This list a a subjective list which I believe can help very new Ubuntu users settle in quite easily. All the other productivity tools you may need are already installed by default; Openoffice is a typical example. The above list is in no way complete and different people may prefer different apps. 
Let me know which ones you prefer that are not on the list and why. Share your thoughts.

5 easy steps to become an Ubuntu power user for newbies.

More and more people are migrating to Ubuntu Linux on an unprecedented scale. However, most if not all, of these new users are people who have no prior knowledge of Linux whatsoever. The road to being a power Ubuntu Linux user can be summed up in five simple steps that every new user in whatever category will find easy and fun to implement.Using Ubuntu is more than just running an OS, it is about joining an ideological movement of freedom that in my view is symbolized  by the Statue of Liberty in the US. Read on to become the next Mark Shuttleworth.
Step 1- Join the Ubuntu Forums.
The first thing you should do as a new user of Ubuntu is to join the Ubuntu Forums.  It is a very helpful place where you can get to introduce yourself, make friends with newbies like you and more experienced geeks, ask any question you have about Ubuntu or Open Source in general, join any ongoing conversation and more. I also advice that you take time everyday to visit. Be an active participant. If you like, you can even subscribe to the feeds of the Forums. But whatever the case, please make it a note to join the Ubuntu Forums and you will be amazed at how much you get to learn for free..
Step 2- Get your own personal reference manuals.
It is highly recommended to get your own reference manuals about Ubuntu and Linux in general. Linux is more of a subject to be learned than something to just use. With Ubuntu Linux, you always have something to learn and it is very much worth the effort given the fact that Linux is poised to be the future of computing. You also improve your computing skills when you get to learn as much as you can about Linux. You will also be surprised at the kind of exhilaration that you experience when you successfully troubleshoot your own system the very frist time without the help of anybody.
Step 3- Ask, ask, ask.
Whatever problem you might be facing in using Ubuntu Linux, be sure to know that someone out there has encountered  that problem before and all you need to do to get it solved will be to ask. This brings us to the first step of joining the forums. You should also be using Google a lot. Just Google your question and get millions of suggested results in seconds. Do not shut your mouth when you have a problem and run back to Windows simply because you had a problem with Ubuntu Linux. You must ask to get help. To even get more specific suggestions on the forums, you should make it clear that you are a newbie. Most people are willing to help more newbies than others. Don’t let your Windows friends tease you with the age old phrase of ” that’s Linux for you” just because you did not ask. The solution to every single Ubuntu Linux problem is as simple as asking at the right place.
Step 4- Experiment with your system.
The only sure fire way to be a Linux geek is to practice, and what better practice is there than to experiment with your own system. Always have a backup of your system and experiment with other ways of using Ubuntu. Do not just settle for the default setup of your installation. Apply the skills and tips you learn in the above books as much as you can, read about other methods of getting things done and apply them. Read wide and apply more. Be sure to always backup  your system though. Try using other utilities like Compiz and a host of others. Experiment with how to make your system unique and you will be surprised at how much you get to learn by doing.
Step 5- Help others out
This is the most important step of all the five. Ubuntu Linux users are a worldwide community of people that believe in “humanity to others” and as such, you should endeavor to help others out as much as you can. If all you know is how to run a LiveCD, share that knowledge with someone. Anytime you visit the Ubuntu Forums, be sure to seek out new users like you and share your little experience with them. Help as much as you can. Go out of your way to be very helpful to new users with  every single bit of knowledge you have. Over ten million people are using and benefiting from a very powerful, reliable and secure OS because one man believed in giving back to others. The least you can also do is to share your experience with those in need. You will be amazed at the level of knowledge you gain sharing yours with others.
Practice these simple but powerful points and in no time you will be on your way to being a geek that others will look up to for help and support.
What other ways do you think new users can use to get a grounding in the world of Ubuntu Linux? Share your thoughts in your comments. Talk back!