Tricking Out the Terminal: An Introduction

*
Accepted Session
Short Form
Beginner
Scheduled: Wednesday, June 24, 2015 from 4:45 – 5:30pm in B301

Excerpt

A beginner-focused overview of the particulars and pitfalls of the command line and several common shells, with a focus on improving developer workflows, exposing common default tools, implementing useful open-source tools, and inserting emoji into prompts (pretty much the best part of customizing the terminal).

Description

Behind the polished graphical representations of computer operating systems lies an immensely powerful text-only interface to the computer, referred to as the terminal or the command line. The terminal can be an integral part of a developer’s workflow, but if you don’t come from a Unix background, it can be an intimidating piece of software to use. When we’re so used to windows and menus and contexts, what do you with that empty blinking cursor?

Terminals come with default software called “shells” that add a lot of tools and power to the command line. Even though they seem like an immutable part of the computer, shells are actually extremely customizable, and can even be swapped out for different shells. Gaining experience with the command line and personalizing the shell to your own preferences is not as cryptic as it might seem.

In this presentation, I’ll give a friendly introduction to the command line,walk through some of its history, and point out the pros and cons of different shells like bash, zsh, and fish. I’ll give an overview of the particulars and pitfalls each of these shells, with a focus on improving developer workflows, exposing common default tools, implementing useful open-source tools, and inserting emoji into prompts (pretty much the best part of customizing the terminal).

Tags

terminal, command line, bash, zsh, fish, emoji

Speaking experience

I presented on bookmarklets at CascadiaJS 2014: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-BzNxuu2yw

I also gave a short talk on impostor syndrome at a SF Node Meetup event in November 2014: http://www.pubnub.com/blog/silent-syndrome-node-everywhere/

Speaker