Why do so many people fail to utilise 50%+ of the power of OS X?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by Cromulent, Feb 15, 2007.

  1. Cromulent macrumors 603


    Oct 2, 2006
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    This is a question that has always intrigued me. Mac OS X is an incredibly powerful OS. Much of this is due to its Unix base. So when I see people say things like, I don't want to use the Terminal I'm left feeling a bit perplexed.

    Yes, you can damage your system if you do not know what you are doing with specific commands. But that can be remedied by simply typing man *command* to bring up the documentation for that specific command.

    Is there a specific reason for this fear of the command line in the Mac community? I'm just interested to know why people do not want to use it who then complain that the GUI does not do what they want. Most if not all the complaints I read about tools such as Spotlight could be fixed if people just used the Terminal and Unix tools like Grep.
  2. srf4real macrumors 68030


    Jul 25, 2006
    paradise beach FL
    I like OS X because it does everything I want without me having to be a programmer.:cool:
  3. elppa macrumors 68040


    Nov 26, 2003
    It's not in the culture of the platform. Apple brought the GUI to the mainstream.
  4. risc macrumors 68030


    Jul 23, 2004
    Melbourne, Australia
    Why does it matter? I came to OS X because I wanted a UNIX like OS that had proper notebook hardware support, but I have learnt just as much about the OS from people who have been Mac addicts for years, way before UNIX had anything to do with the Mac OS. That is what I love most about OS X the fact it is a UNIX like OS but it really doesn't matter if you have a clue about UNIX at all anyone can just sit down and get it to do whatever they want.
  5. Cromulent thread starter macrumors 603


    Oct 2, 2006
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    Oh, don't get me wrong. It does not matter at all. Until someone starts complaining about features the OS does not have when in fact it does, all they need to do is learn how to use the Terminal.

    If you never need to use the features offered by the Unix base then don't use them. But if you do and instead of jumping in and using the features it offers just start complaining on forums about this and that, then it does get tiring at times.
  6. Krevnik macrumors 68030


    Sep 8, 2003
    I believe the answer is: "You shouldn't be required to learn 30-year-old, nearly-randomly-named commands to do something powerful."

    There is no connection between difficulty of the task, and the 'power' provided. Not all difficult or complex tasks are powerful, not all simple tasks aren't powerful. I believe a great example of this is some of the front-ends to ffmpeg. iSquint and Visual Hub do a pretty good job of providing very powerful tools, and don't require that you understand the ins and outs of the ffmpeg command-line (I submitted code to the ffmpeg project, and even /I/ have issues with the command-line arguments).

    When I want to encode video, I don't want to have to delve into the command-line every time. That is why I have Handbrake, Mac the Ripper, and Visual Hub (and ffmpegX, but its UI isn't as good). Just because you can use the CLI to do nearly any task, doesn't mean that you can do every task /efficiently/. I would rather have an efficient UI that lets me gather the bigger picture, rather than a text spew which makes it more difficult to do that. And yes, I write code for a living on a fairly complex app.

    I do like the Terminal, and am glad it is there for certain /advanced/ tasks such as resizing partitions, making bit-for-bit CD/DVD images, and so on... but we shouldn't expect the general user to live in our world, because we can.
  7. godbout macrumors regular

    Jun 22, 2005
    Montreal, Canada
    I think that you are just finding the wrong people to talk about Mac OS X with. There is a relatively large following of Apple/*nix Geeks out there that would only give up the terminal if you pried it from their cold dead hands. I do a good portion of my work from the terminal and bash scripting is a must to keep me from routine tasks and I know that many of my geeky friends do so as well. You can say that people are not using the power of their OS to the full extent but I think that the majority have no genuine interest in doing so (That is what makes us Geeks).

    If you (anyone) would like to talk with some apple geeks about learning the power of the BSD base in OS X, I would suggest that you head over to http://forums.macosxhints.com/ and surf through the Unix section for a while, some of the things that people are doing are really interesting...
  8. maxrobertson macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2006
    I know how to use the terminal, and I very occasionally do just to mess around, but I really don't see any reason to use the terminal on a regular basis. If I want to use a text-based interface, I can use MS-DOS or Linux for almost no money. The GUI is what I really like.
  9. OldCorpse macrumors 65816


    Dec 7, 2005
    compost heap
    Aaah, Krevnik is spot on!

    I'll make the case more provocatively, so the point is driven home.

    Cromulent wrote:

    I'm just interested to know why people do not want to use it who then complain that the GUI does not do what they want. Most if not all the complaints I read about tools such as Spotlight could be fixed if people just used the Terminal and Unix tools like Grep.

    Answer: IT'S APPLE'S FAULT that users are not using the full power of OS X!

    Welcome to design 101.

    Power should not be hidden behind unintuitive and arbitrary tools. A well-designed UI combines simplicity, intuitiveness and power.

    Which tool is better: tool "a" is equally powerful as tool "b", but in the case of "a" you can figure it out just by looking (intuitive), while tool "b" needs you to read and memorize a 500 page book. Remember, the power is equal - but the interface is vastly superior in tool "a" - so tool "a" is the better tool.

    Welcome to evolution 101 and to economy 101.

    We can't all be specialists in everything. Would you like to have to read and master a 500 page book to operate your DVD player, a 500 page book to master your computer, a 500 page book to master your microwave? No! That's why modern economy could develop when it took advantage of a basic evolutionary law. And it is a superior technology which can give you the power of a DVD, microwave, car, computer, application without demanding that you learn obsure commands, secret handshakes and arbitrary code.

    The command line, in so far as it is not intuitive - is INFERIOR to an intuitive UI of equal power.

    A good friend of mine is a Systems Administrator for a research facility. He'd often remark to me how "stupid" his computer users are. And I'd point out that the guys who use his computers and whom he calls stupid hold advanced degrees in physics and mathematics and are brilliant researchers. I say to him: it is YOUR TOOLS, you computer that has failed them. They are not stupid, your tool is stupid. One day computers will be so advanced, and SMART that they'll be as easy to use as a DVD player - they'll practically read our thoughts. Until then, computers are STUPID.

    It's like the argument I often have with Europeans about stick shifts in cars. They tell me: "oh, stick gives you so much poweeeeer, controooool, automatic is stuuuupid." And I asnwer: then the problem is the automatic transmission is not far enough advanced. Today, the newest automatics are close to or superior to sticks - and way, way, way, way more convenient. Yet the stupid cult of the stick exists. Funny. Just as once a real man would start his car with a crank - none of this key business, lol. Except, the key is way better and nobody feels the urge to go out in the middle of the winter to crank up your car.

    Think of what we are able to do because of better UI and automation - you could'nt possibly fly the advanced fighter jets today using manual methods. A computer does most of the flying - it increases your power. You can concentrate on flying, not fiddling with dials.

    When operating a computer I want to concentrate on my work. I don't want to have to learn the CLI, or other medieval stupid crap. I want a modern UI that allows me to concentrate on work only - I don't want to have to remember anything - the less the better. The less the computer comes between me and my work the better. The best computer is the "invisible" computer. That's why folks have problems with their computers - because computers are often still too primitive and demand a lot of knowledge. I REGRET knowing as much as I already do about computers! I wish I did't have to know that you need to go through 12 stupid steps to accomplish something - I WANT THE UI to take care of it.

    That my friend is the power of Apple - hide away the dirty, stupid, idiotic, unintuitve workings of the computer! This is what Apple always had over Microsoft! The computer gets out of the way and just lets you work - you don't have to remember obscure commands. "But my CLI is more pooooowerful!!!!! waaaaaaa!!!" In that case, the UI failed - get me the power of CLI with an intuitive UI.

    I had an argument with a developer once. He told me the steep learning curve of his app was due to its power. BS! Any moderately talented programmer can design an app that's easy to learn and NOT powerful. Equally true, any moderately talented programmer can design an app that's powerful but hard to learn. But it takes a rare genius to design an app that's BOTH powerful and easy to learn/intuitive. And that's the promise of Apple. Many times Apple succeeds. Sometimes they fail. Like CLI.

    So, if you find that people don't use the power of the computer, it's because it's badly designed. Don't bitch at users, get down and do a better job designing. That's how we climbed down from the trees and got out of caves.
  10. dllavaneras macrumors 68000


    Feb 12, 2005
    Caracas, Venezuela
    For the same reasons so many people fail to use 50%+ the power of their cell phones :rolleyes:
  11. Eraserhead macrumors G4


    Nov 3, 2005
    I don't agree, the CLI is like a bonus, if you didn't have it these features wouldn't exist at all. And by putting them on the command line other applications can access them from a GUI like with FFMPEG.
  12. nsbio macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2006
    Using the Terminal is akin to opening the hood of your car. While it should be opened once in a while, the car mechanic, not the driver, should do that most of the time. While it is perhaps possible to drive a car with its hood open - and some geeks will rightfully argue that you can control it better that way (sparks, ignition, fuel, timing, blah blah blah) - what's under the hood should be hidden from the user during normal operation.

    I like to drive my car and I like to write/draw/surf the web on my computer. Some people like to tinker with one or the other - all the power to them. As for me, I do not care how exactly it works as long as it does. :apple:
  13. spicyapple macrumors 68000


    Jul 20, 2006
    My car can go up to 220 km/h but I don't necessarily want to drive it that fast. But it's there if I need it. :) And it is 4WD, but haven't engaged it in several years.
  14. holamiamigos macrumors 6502a

    Aug 10, 2006
    i'm thinking because apple is going for the mainstream market and most people are not computer programmers that know everything.

    On the 'Get a Mac" page on the website, i believe the number one spot says

    "It Just Works."
  15. wyrmintheapple macrumors regular

    May 8, 2006
    Southampton, UK
    I think this is largely why linux isn't ready for the desktop market yet....

    Observe this scenario if you will......

    I have purchased a new graphics card. I have a PC, with a linux install of Ubuntu 6.10. It works great, but it lacks 3D acceleration. I have purchased a radeon 9200, because this works on linux, I have researched this. I check the ATI site... there is no GPL driver. I need GPL, I am told by all the people on the forums that I am satan's lovechild If I use the ATI driver.. I check the linux forums. Sadly between mesa, xOrg and DRI websites, each offering different drivers and solutions, I am baffled.
    I install the card anyway, expecting it to boot in 640x480 mode like windows. It breaks, X wont start and dumps me back in the command line!!!

    Now, very few people know what to do at this point, yet "power users" seem unwilling to wrap their big brains around the concept that people simply don't want complexity.

    Or, try this fun scenario.

    I have a 17" monitor, Its working great. I change it for a bigger one. The... horizontal range?? is different, Xorg wont start, and I'm back at a login prompt????

    Now, why would anyone WANT to deal with this? Why don't you see that for most people (and by most, I mean most people in the world, not on this forum, where the proportion of tech savvy users is going to be higher.) see the terminal as that thing they might need to know one day, If all else fails, and even then, they'll be scared of it.
  16. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Jun 25, 2002
    Gone but not forgotten.
    People shouldn't have to use a shell to do anything in the normal realm of users.

    I regularly complain about access to Linux from the GUI and how poorly things are integrated but Mac OS X doesn't do nearly as much integration as it should for being in users' hands for 5+ years. Supposedly, we'll finally see some new support for the firewall in Leopard.

    However, you would expect people who don't even dig into their application preferences or the System Preferences to go looking deep into the operating system? You must be joking.

    I've been using UNIX shells since the mid-1980s and can do most anything I need to do and I know there are more complicated things to do. I also know how dangerous it is to leave someone else with a shell prompt. That's why I used to design menu systems at places where they had UNIX boxes.
  17. superleccy macrumors 6502a


    Oct 31, 2004
    That there big London
    Darn it.

    Up till now I was feeling proud that I'd managed to get my 60 year old non-technical father to switch to an iMac and make full use of the iLife suite to the extent that he's now terrorising the YouTube community with his iMovies and recording entire albums on GarageBand.

    But now, as I understand it, I've got to teach him UNIX.

    Sigh. Is my work never done?

  18. risc macrumors 68030


    Jul 23, 2004
    Melbourne, Australia
    If OS X wasn't a UNIX like OS I'd still be using NetBSD, FreeBSD, and Linux at home. I know many other *NIX dorks that made the switch to Apple hardware and OS X for the same reason.

    OSes that aren't based on UNIX just feel foreign to me.

    Sure the OS X GUI is nice enough, but with the power of UNIX it's just another GUI based OS with no vibe!

    What can I say I love UNIX!

    As for people not wanting to touch the command line... whatever floats your boat! As long as I have the option I'm happy.
  19. janey macrumors 603


    Dec 20, 2002
    sunny los angeles
    i love the cli. a LOT of things exist that are extremely easier and faster to do by commandline, and besides a lot of apps out there are just gui frontends anyway. And some of them are shareware, or haven't been updated in forever..well I always have the commandline and macports for that :p

    There are many, many things that are just way easier to do in terminal than in various apps..like grabbing all files in a particular area with the same extension in terminal vs. finder vs. a 3rd party app like PathFinder..not the same. And then when all i have to do is hit ctrl+spacebar to get a command prompt, why even bother taking my fingers off the keyboard (i'm a big quicksilver fan as well) to use the mouse? Yeah, like I'm gonna get-info a folder just to change permissions or an owner...

    And I enjoy the challenge of getting beryl working again after something like "emerge -uavDN world" breaks it or a dependency. It took me a bit of time to get my last gentoo install up and working, but i learned from it, and will probably use that information somewhere later to help me do something else and save time :p
  20. Schtibbie macrumors 6502

    Jan 13, 2007
    I am a tech guy at work. Was a programmer for 8 years, now more in project management, technical reqs, some testing. I honestly no longer *like* computers for computers' sake. I like them for what they let me do. And frankly, when I get home from a long week at work, I just want my home computer (macbook) to leave me alone and let me websurf or do photos or work on my budget.

    So, when I noticed that OS X wasn't running whatever maintenance routines each day/week/month that it's supposed to (never mind how unimportant they are), I got annoyed that I'd have to run terminal commands to make this work or install 3rd party software.

    That about sums it up.
  21. cgratti macrumors 6502a


    Dec 28, 2004
    Central Pennsylvania, USA
    Yep, to busy and too lazy to use terminal... unless I have to
  22. asphalt-proof macrumors 6502a

    Aug 15, 2003

    Congratulations!! You know how to use terminal and can blithely look down upon all us ignorant-non-using-terminal folk. Maybe Apple with FINALLY do away with that GUI-fad-thing and get to making a proper OS.:rolleyes:
    That's working out just great for Linux right? Oh wait, the most popular distro is Ubantu which is so Mac-like!! Hmmm. Those dang linux geeks... if only they would use more than 50% of their OS power.
  23. miniConvert macrumors 68040


    Mar 4, 2006
    Kent, UK - the 'Garden of England'.
    OS X is so great because it satisfies those who have absolutely no intention of wondering into the UNIX side of things, in fact there are probably people out there who don't even know of it's UNIX base, while also reaching out to the more computer-literate and offering them what they'd normally need to dual-boot for on a PC.

    I finally figured out what plist files were today, how they work, how to load/unload them etc - liberating :D There really is so much power under the hood in OS X.
  24. Tymmz macrumors 65816


    Jan 6, 2005
    I am not into that "command line thingy". I want everything simple and OBVIOUS!
  25. Eric Piercey macrumors 6502

    Eric Piercey

    Nov 29, 2006
    Perpetual Bondage
    We're all too stupid obviously. :confused: Will you help me rewire this satellite I'm having a hard time.

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