Command Line Interface (CLI) vs. Graphical User Interface (GUI)
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Command Line Interface (CLI) vs. Graphical User Interface (GUI)

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By: mrNayaNi
December 28, 2020

Graphical User Interface (GUI) and Command Line Interface (CLI) are the two means of interaction between a user and an electronic device. A GUI is a graphical representation in which the users can interact with software or devices through clickable icons. A CLI is a console or text-based representation in which the user types commands into a terminal to operate and navigate the software or devices. Examining CLI and GUI requires an examination of their features, advantages, and disadvantages.

Graphical User Interface

More than likely, a user's first interaction with a computer is through a GUI. It is more common and user friendly. A GUI uses a mouse and a keyboard for navigation throughout the machine. Visual components represent potential user actions. Although easier to use, a GUI is considered slower due to more visual output, which requires more memory than a text-based CLI.

A GUI offers control over a computer's files and operating system, but advanced tasks may require the command line. GUIs are excellent for general computer use and for users that want to use a machine without prior knowledge of its interface. More users are comfortable with a GUI because it is practical and usable.

Command Line Interface

A CLI uses a keyboard for text input of commands that are required to navigate the machine. As previously indicated, CLI requires commands to be used. Users need to know these commands to use a CLI. This is generally why CLI is less used than a GUI. However, CLI requires a smaller amount of RAM and CPU processing time.

Concerning hacking and penetration testing, remote access, and file manipulation are done from the command line. Although GUI's can create shortcuts, tasks, or other similar actions, it is within a CLI that advanced tasks can be efficiently carried out. CLIs also use a command-line interpreter to support scripting or task automation.

Every IT and Cybersecurity professional needs to be familiar with the command line and be proficient in its navigation. A great way is to complete the “Command Line Basics” Cybrary Course.

Choosing to use a GUI or a CLI is dependent on the purpose of computer navigation. Many users prefer a GUI because it is easier and more comfortable. Many users like a visual representation of their actions on a computer or other device. GUIs are the default when computer interaction is considered and is the go-to because of their usability.

The command line is not ideal for every computer user because it requires memorized commands to use its interface. However, being familiar with CLI is essential to professionals in IT because of the benefits it has, such as remote access and the ability to run scripts. Interaction ultimately depends on the user and the purpose behind using the machine. Based on the information presented, newer or more casual users are likely to prefer a GUI, whereas experienced users and professionals are more likely to use a CLI.

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