Shell tool examples in the terminal

eg Explains

Article from Issue 258/2022
Author(s):

Need to know how to use a command-line tool? eg provides real life examples, and it is easier to access than the man pages.

On forums and in discussion groups, you increasingly find people claiming that using the command line is an anachronism. They say that it should be possible to handle any task with graphical tools. This kind of statement shows that whoever posted the comments has never seriously tried to work with a terminal. Anyone who is aware of the speed and elegance of working at the command line would never agree that graphical tools alone would be preferable. I admit to using a hybrid of command line and graphical tools on the Plasma desktop. I have increasingly used both, equally, in combination for many years, and there is no way I would want to do without the command line given this very satisfying division of labor.

Complex Man Pages

There are several ways to approach working in a terminal as a newcomer with the willingness to learn. The first place to start for many users is the man pages, which are great as a reference because they list all the options, flags, and parameters for a tool. But if you actually want to learn how to use command-line interface (CLI) tools, the man pages offer very limited help – in fact, they are more likely to scare off most newcomers. Hands-on examples provide far more easily digestible information, and there are countless examples on the web. The trick is finding the right example from such a massive selection.

This is where the interactive tool eg enters the scene. It stands for exempli gratia (e.g. for short), which comes from Latin. The name makes sense, until you need to search the web or your hard drive for "eg" and are bombarded with matches. eg's self-description states that it provides examples of common uses of command line tools. I checked how well this works.

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