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While Linux is certainly very easy to use, there are some activities surrounding it that are seen as more complex than others. While they can be all be avoided easily enough, they do have a certain, geeky appeal. How many of them do you follow?
Are YOU a Linux geek? Let’s find out!
1. The Terminal Is Your File Manager
To people new to Linux, command lines can be quite intimidating, complicated, and confusing. You however, find benefits of using one outweighs the small learning curve. It’s consistent, and a jack of all trades. Who could ask for more?
While there are lots of great programs to navigate through your folders, you believe the command line reigns supreme. It’s a comfort in the ever changing desktop landscape, consistent in its behavior and appearance. You laugh as others scratch their heads, having their file manager changed with their new Linux operating system.
You appreciate how powerful and fast the command line can be, even if it’s a little hard to learn at first. In a regular file manager, toggling hidden files usually takes a few extra clicks. The equivalent terminal command requires two extra keystrokes. Simple, clean, and elegant.
But even with all the benefits surrounding it, it’s definitely not for everybody. Regular file managers are far easier to pick up and use at first. As such, if you find yourself opening up your terminal more often than not, you might already be a bit of a Linux geek.
2. Using Your Package Manager Is Child’s Play
Linux makes it easy to install whatever you want using graphical applications, but there’s something about the package manager that just draws you in. Maybe you like its no-nonsense approach to installations — grabbing all the programs you want at once is much faster than searching for them one by one.
You might also like the degree of power it gives to you. After all, there are no extra mouse clicks to hamper your searches. It’s basically a matter of type and go. Of course, you might just use it because there’s something extremely cool about using a terminal. Even if it’s just to install a spiffy new icon theme.
A step further would be compiling programs. Rather than letting your Linux distribution provider handle all the nuts and bolts of building a package for you to install, you do it yourself! Granted, there are merits to this: your packages can be as light or heavyweight as you want, and can perform better to boot. Still, it’s pretty full on. You need to keep track of what programs you’ve installed by yourself, and compiling programs can take a lot of time.
3. You Write Your Own Shell Scripts
As you might know, shell scripts are just a list of commands your computer executes that you can run at any time. They’re great at automating mundane tasks that you wouldn’t want to do by hand. For example, if you want to search and rename all of the images you have in a folder, a script would be much preferred to editing them one by one. Even so, they can sometimes resemble an alphabet soup to the uninitiated.
There’s something empowering about telling your computer exactly what you want it to do. A well-crafted script does just that, with no fuss and little complaint. You embrace every line of the scripts you craft, honing them to a fine edge. It is efficient, and flawless. Your humble text file saves you from a mundane routine of clicking and dragging.
And that’s part of the reason why it’s actually rather geeky. Along with using a package manager, you’re pretty much speaking in a different language: one that connects you and your computer. Except of course, shell scripts can do far more things than a package manager ever could.
4. You Know How to Use Vi or Emacs
There are quite a few console text editors in the Linux world. Some have been around for longer than others, and this is especially the case for both vi and GNU Emacs. Generally, most people will be fine with the nano text editor. Suffice to say, using something other than this is rather rare.
Both vi and Emacs have a rather steep learning curve compared to something like nano. In vi, for example, if you don’t know what you’re doing, just exiting the program becomes something of a hit and miss! The Emacs editor doesn’t fare any better. There are lots of combination keys that do a range of different things. While this might be useful, actually remembering all of them might be off-putting to some.
But if you’re one of the people who can use these editors, then more power to you! Both are designed to be powerful and fast despite the high barrier of entry. But really, that’s probably for the best, and perhaps you agree with that notion.
Bonus Linux geek points to you if you’re aware of the holy war between vi and Emacs. Or even participated it in some way or another! Both editors have different advantages and disadvantages, which only further increases their rivalry. For example Emacs, is known for its extensibility — you can even use it as a media player! On the other hand, Vi is more ubiquitous and efficient.
5. You’re Using LFS, Gentoo, or Arch Linux
The number of Linux operating systems out there is large to say the least. Some are harder to use than others, and this is especially the case with Linux From Scratch (LFS), Gentoo and Arch Linux. Each of the three share something in common with each other: you’re basically building your system from the ground up, and you’ll be doing a lot of work in the terminal. The only thing that differs is by how much.
Arch Linux is relatively easier to set up than the other two. It cuts out a few extra installation steps at the cost of lower flexibility. For example, in Gentoo and LFS, you’re pretty much expected to build your own packages. Instead, Arch provides people with access to downloadable packages like Debian and Ubuntu does. While Gentoo does this to a lesser degree, you’ll still be compiling the majority of your programs.
Out of the three, it’s LFS which is the most technically challenging. For starters, you’d be compiling everything from source. No shortcuts and minimal automation, with only the (admittedly very comprehensive) LFS handbook as your guide.
Basically, they’re all degrees more difficult to install compared to other Linux distributions. Furthermore, using one of them pretty much guarantees that you’ll be doing other ‘geek’ activities along the way.
Only the Beginning
There’s definitely more technical Linux activities than the ones listed here. Linux is as easy or as hard as you make it. And those that find this challenge appealing? Well, “geek” is the best word to describe them! But even if you don’t consider yourself one, you may very well find yourself delving into Linux more than you’d expect.
What Linux feats have you performed or seen?