Coffee and Code: The Command Line - An Introduction

Key Info
Description - a brief synopsis, abstract or summary of what the learning resource is about: 

Graphical user interfaces are fast, often more than fast enough to suit our needs. GUIs are feature rich, can be intuitive, and often filter out a lot of stuff we don't need to know about and aren't interested in. Nearly everything we need to do can be done simply and quickly using a GUI.

The command line is a great resource for speeding up and automating routine activities without using a lot of processing power. In some cases, it can be better for:

  • Searching for files
  • Searching within files
  • Reading and writing files and data
  • Network activities

Some file and data recovery processes can only be executed from the command line.


  • The command line is old fashioned
  • Potential efficiency gains take time to manifest
  • Even Neal Stephenson says it's obsolete
Authoring Person(s) Name: 
Karl Benedict
Authoring Organization(s) Name: 
University of New Mexico Research Data Services
License - link to legal statement specifying the copyright status of the learning resource: 
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International - CC BY 4.0
Access Cost: 
No fee
Primary language(s) in which the learning resource was originally published or made available: 
More info about
Keywords - short phrases describing what the learning resource is about: 
Data cleaning
Data coding
Data formats
Data handling
Graphical User Interface (GUI)
Friday, August 11, 2017
Publisher - organization credited with publishing or broadcasting the learning resource: 
University of New Mexico Research Data Services
Version - revision or edition number or date associated with a learning resource: 
Last updated February, 2019
Media Type - designation of the form in which the content of the learning resource is represented, e.g., moving image: 
Interactive Resource - requires a user to take action or make a request in order for the content to be understood, executed or experienced.
Contact Person(s): 
Karl Benedict
Contact Organization(s): 
University of New Mexico Research Data Services
Educational Info
Purpose - primary educational reason for which the learning resource was created: 
Instruction - detailed information about aspects or processes related to data management or data skills.
Learning Resource Type - category of the learning resource from the point of view of a professional educator: 
Learning Activity - guided or unguided activity engaged in by a learner to acquire skills, concepts, or knowledge that may or may not be defined by a lesson. Examples: data exercises, data recipes.
Target Audience - intended audience for which the learning resource was created: 
Data manager
Data professional
Early-career research scientist
Graduate student
Mid-career research scientist
Research faculty
Research scientist
Undergraduate student
Intended time to complete - approximate amount of time the average student will take to complete the learning resource: 
More than 1 hour (but less than 1 day)