GNOME Terminal - Command Summary [Mockup]

November 19th, 2010 by Jacob Barkdull

So we all know that users who are new to the command-line find it intimidating, no matter what operating system, they just find it intimidating. These users are the kind of people who never used early Unix or MS-DOS, they were introduced to computers with graphics and point-and-click interfaces.

And I've been wondering: What's so intimidating? I know for a fact that some people know what the command-line is, they know its power, a simple mix-up of the 'dd' command's 'if' and 'of' options and your drive is broken, and that alone is intimidating enough to avoid it. More so than that is its complete lack of positive reassurance, there aren't many options, and there is little to no feedback.

I am talking about most default graphical command-line interfaces here. In Windows "cmd.exe" doesn't have very many options, and in GNOME on GNU/Linux "gnome-terminal" has more options, but just for things like font size, font color, window title, background color, number of lines, and compatibility. And that's good, keep it simple, it's a command-line interface, I need it to start fast and do one thing, display command output.

With that said, I think GNOME Terminal could use a simple graphical way to reassure its user that the commands he/she is typing are going to do what he/she wants. Here is my mockup of how this would work.

Type one of four commands: rm, fdisk, shutdown, or apt-get (it has a few bugs.)


This was only tested in IceWeasel 3.6 (Firefox 3.6) and Epiphany. Here's an image if it doesn't look right.

As you can see, my idea is to simply make a two-line bottom pane appear displaying the short description already available in each command's manual (e.g. man rm) as a user types in a command. Also clicking a command at anytime would bring the bottom pane back up.

GNOME Terminal - Mockup
Commands would be clickable, appearing with either a surrounding box or an underline when the mouse is over them.

I believe this at the very least would help prevent the "rm -rf /" tricks people pull on newcomers in various forums. Good idea or did I just somehow make a fool of myself?


On the Blog RSS

May 9th, 2021

GNOME 40 is finally out and I'm happy to say a small contribution of mine made it into the release. My contribution adds a new feature to GNOME System Monitor version 40. Few articles about GNOME 40 mention it, but some power users might find my contribution useful.

November 15th, 2019
If you leave this option checked when you export your image, any pixels you erased will be saved in the exported image. They will not be truly erased, just made fully transparent. In other words, the data that describes the color of each pixel will be preserved, they will just be made invisible. This option has privacy implications. With it enabled, what you erase from an image may still be present in transparent pixels.
May 2nd, 2015

Over the past few days I've been in talks with a nice fellow named Kamil Jablonski, a concept artist, graphic designer, and web developer who recently contributed a Polish locale for HashOver. He shared with me a logo design for HashOver, that after some back and forth became, in my opinion, a very cool design.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Want to get the latest news and updates about my software, blog posts and behind the scenes information? Than subscribe to my newsletter to stay up-to-date!