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What Is a Computer Terminal? (in Programming)

If you are a computer user, then chances are, at some point you will need to use the computer Terminal. The computer Terminal is a text-based interface that allows you to communicate directly with your computer. In this blog post, we will discuss what the computer Terminal is and how to use it in programming.

What is the Terminal of a Computer?

The Terminal is a text-based interface that allows you to communicate with your computer through typing commands. This means that you can type in commands and the computer will respond to your requests. You can use the Terminal to do things like change your computer’s settings, modify and delete folders, install software, and more.

The history of the terminal comes from the times when computers used to not have proper visual operating systems and would work on what used be called DOS (Disk Operating System).

Since there was no visual interface, users would need to enter text commands in order to interact with their computers. For example, in order to move a file from one order to another, we can now drag and drop it, but in the past we would need to use a Terminal command to do this.

While the Terminal is still used today for certain tasks and advanced computer users, it is not as widely used as it once was. However, if you need to use the Terminal for any reason, it is important to know how to use this powerful tool.

What is Terminal Used for

The Terminal can be used for a variety of tasks and functions, including modifying system settings, installing new software, managing files and folders, troubleshooting your computer, and much more.

Some of the most common uses for the Terminal include optimizing performance by adjusting system settings, managing software packages, and performing advanced disk maintenance tasks like repairing or deleting partitions.

Additionally, the Terminal can also be used to troubleshoot common computer errors, connect to remote servers, edit configuration files, and much more. Basically, you can do everything you are used to doing on your computer, but through typing commands in the terminal.

So what can you do with a terminal that you can’t do in a regular way in your computer?

Well, nothing really. There is native software or an interactive way of performing virtually all of these tasks in your operating system (OS).

However, once you are proficient with the command line, using the terminal can really streamline some of the tasks you would otherwise need to do with a mouse and keyboard. Because you can use the terminal to automate certain tasks or perform advanced operations, it is an invaluable tool for power users and system administrators.

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computer terminal used for programming
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How to Access the Terminal on Mac

There are a few different ways to access the Terminal on a Mac.

The most common way is by opening the Applications folder, locating the Utilities folder, and then finding the Terminal app.

Alternatively, you can use Spotlight to search for “terminal” on your computer. This will bring up the Terminal app in your search results.

Once you have accessed the Terminal, you can start using it to perform various tasks and functions on your computer.

How to Access the Terminal on Windows

In order to access the Terminal on Windows, you will need to open your start menu and search for “cmd”. This should bring up the Command Prompt program on your computer.

Once you have found it, simply click on it to open the Terminal.

You will then see a black window appear with a flashing cursor in the top left corner. This is where you can enter commands to access and use the Terminal.

How to Access the Terminal on Linux

On Linux, you can access the Terminal either through a menu system or by typing in commands directly into your terminal window.

One way to access the Terminal on Linux is by opening your applications menu and searching for “terminal” or “shell”. This should open a terminal window where you can start using the Terminal.

Alternatively, you can open a new terminal window by typing “terminal” or “bash” into your command prompt. This will bring up the terminal interface and give you access to all of its powerful features.

As an interesting note, you may have heard that Linux system requires a more advanced technical knowledge. This is because you need to use the command line interface in order to perform certain tasks and functions.

So basically, in Linux, using the terminal is the default way of communicating with the computer, instead of using the mouse and interactive screen like on mac OS or Windows.

computer terminal commands
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How to Use the Terminal

After you open the terminal on your computer, you can start using it to perform various tasks and functions.

To get started, simply type in a command (we will review the basic commands below) and press enter. Remember to be careful when using the Terminal, as it can sometimes have unintended consequences if you enter a command incorrectly.

By taking the time to learn about how the Terminal works and practice using it, however, you can become a skilled Terminal user in no time.

After you execute a command, you should see written feedback from the computer on the next line. This feedback will tell you whether the command was successfully executed and what the output of that command was.

Basic Terminal Commands

Now that we have set you up with the terminal on your computer, let’s discuss some commands in order to make you confident in writing terminal commands for the most common operations.

Some of the most useful and commonly used commands in the Terminal include:

“echo”

Echo is used to display text on the screen. For example, you can type “echo Hello World” and press enter to see “Hello World” appear on the screen.

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“pwd” (stands for “print working directory”)

The pwd command is used to print the name of the current working directory. This can be helpful when you are navigating around the filesystem in the terminal and want to know where you currently are.

“ls” (stands for “list”)

The ls command is used to display a list of files and directories in a given directory. For example, typing “ls” will show you what folders and files are present in your current directory.

“cd” (stands for “change directory”)

The cd command is used to change directories within the current working directory. A few examples of how “cd” can be used include:

  • “cd folder1” will switch to the directory called folder1 within the current working directory (if such folder exists).
  • “cd /folder/subfolder” will change directories to the folder called subfolder within the folder called folder in your current working directory.
  • “cd -” will take you back to the last directory that you were in.
  • “cd ..” will take you one level up in the current working directory (i.e. from “../folder/subfolder/” to “../folder/”.
  • “cd full_directory_address” will take you to a specific directory within the filesystem. For example, if your current working directory is /home/user1 and you want to navigate to a subfolder called “projectone”, you would type “cd /home/user1/projectone”.

“mkdir” (stands for “make directory”)

The mkdir command is used to create a new directory in the current working directory. To create a new folder called “folder1” within your current working directory, for example, you would type “mkdir folder1”. This will create a new folder within your current directory called “folder1”.

“rmdir” (stands for “remove directory”)

The rmdir command is used to remove an existing directory in the current working directory. To remove a directory called “folder1” that is located within the current working directory, for example, you would type “rmdir folder1”. Keep in mind that this only works if the directory is empty. If there are files or other subfolders still in the directory, you will need to use another command, such as “rm” or “cd”, to delete those files first.

“rm” (stands for “remove”)

The rm command is used to delete files in the current working directory. To delete a file called “file1”, for example, you would type “rm file1”. However, keep in mind that this command can be used to delete more than just files, and can also be used to delete directories and subdirectories. As such, you should always exercise caution when using the rm command and make sure that you are deleting the correct files or directories.

“mv <from> <to>” (stands for “move”)

The mv command is used to move files or directories from one location to another. To use this command, you would specify the “from” and “to” locations.

“cp <from> <to>” (stands for “copy”)

The cp command is used to copy files and directories from one location to another. To use this command, you would specify the “from” and “to” locations.

“ping”

The ping command is used to test whether or not a network connection to another computer is working. To use this command, you would type “ping <hostname>”, where “hostname” is the name or ip address of the computer that you want to check. This command will send a series of packets to the specified host, and will then display information about the response time and any errors that were encountered.

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“exit”

The exit command is used to close and exit your current terminal session. Typing “exit” will end your current session and take you back to the command line or terminal prompt.

These are just a few of the most commonly used commands in the Terminal. With some practice and experimentation, you will be able to easily and efficiently navigate your way around the filesystem using these commands.

Whether you’re looking to create new directories, delete old files, or test your network connection, the Terminal is a powerful tool that can help you get the job done. So next time you need to work on your computer, try to use the terminal to accomplish your tasks.

person using Mac computer
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Using Terminal for Git

Now that we have a basic understanding of what the Terminal is and how it works, let’s talk about using the terminal for Git.

Git is a powerful tool that allows you to manage your code projects effectively. The main purpose of using Git for coding projects is version control. Version control allows you to keep track of changes to your code, and easily undo or revert any unwanted changes (which are bound to happen sooner or later in any complex coding project).

To use Git in the terminal, you will need to first install it on your system. Depending on your operating system, this may involve installing a package via your software manager, or downloading and running an installer script.

After Git is installed, you can interact with your Git repositories by performing actions such as cloning, committing, pushing, pulling, and more. This makes it easier than ever to manage your code and stay up-to-date with the latest changes.

If you are new to Git or the Terminal, it can be a little bit intimidating at first. But with some practice and patience, you will be able to use these tools like a pro.

While we are not going to dive into using Git commands in the terminal in this post, we want to suggest an article named Using Git on CommandLine on GeeksforGeeks.

Conclusion

In this blog post, we have discussed about what the Terminal is and talked about some of the most commonly used commands in the Terminal. We have also discussed how to use these commands for Git.

While using Terminal may seem intimidating at first, with a little practice and patience you will be able to use it like a pro. So next time you need to work on your computer, try using the terminal to get the job done. Good luck!