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Command-Line, Is It That Much Powerful?

Published on August 16, 2023

the command line program

Hackers use the command line, what is so special about the command line?

The command line(CLI) has been there for a very long time, since the mid-1960’s it has been a powerful feature of computers. What makes the command line so special? Why do hackers love it? Well, it boils down to a couple of things. But before we go into that, let’s talk about this, what is the command line?

Hackers as we see them in movies

Hackers as we see them in movies

What is the command line?

Command-line is a text-based program that is used to pass commands to the computer. The User Interface of the command line is called a shell, it serves as a layer between the operating system and the user, it lets a user have access to the core components of the operating system, and it serves as a translator which translates human-readable commands to commands which computers understand. There are two most widely used shells in the world, and they are the Windows shell or the command prompt which is the default shell in Windows, and the bash shell or the Bourne Again SHell which is used primarily in Mac os and Linux.

A command line window opened on a laptop

A command line window opened on a laptop

What makes the command line special?

Most programs on our computers use the graphical user interface(GUI). It is just an easy way to perform tasks on daily basis. But the command line is not like the GUI, it uses a text-based UI. Though the GUI is very attractive, it is not as powerful as the CLI, why?

A command line window in a popular movie, The Matrix

A command line window in a popular movie, The Matrix

  1. Operating systems today prevent you from messing up core system processes. This has lead operating systems to blocking access to certain files and places on our computers. For example, Apple has what they call the System Integrity Protection, which restricts access to certain folders, thus they cannot be accessed by the user using regular file managers. But with the command line that is just a breeze. All you have to do is disable the System Integrity Protection with the command line. No other GUI application can do that. That shows the power of the command line.
  2. It uses the least resources compared to GUI. GUI is beautiful, but under the hood, it is clumsy, but the command line is lean, and under the hood, it is very fast. This is due to the text-based nature of the CLI, it tends to perform tasks faster than the GUI which will probably use the GPU in its rendering. This makes the CLI very fast in performing tasks.
  3. The command line supports coding(scripting). Though GUI has come a very long way from the past, and it looks a lot nicer, but there are some things they are not designed for. Supposedly you are asked to convert 500 files of .wav audio forms to .mp3 forms, are you going to click on them one by one and rename their file extensions to .mp3, with GUI I bet that is what you are going to do. But with the command line all it takes is to move into the directory the files are located and write a short line of command, and voila all your files will be converted. Alternatively, if you wish to make the conversion of .wav to .mp3 a regular job, all you have to do is write a simple bash script and put in your codes, and every time you need to change the extensions of music files you run the bash file.

Why do hackers love the command line?

Due to the above reasons hackers really love the command line, hackers tend to repeat tasks and the command line is the perfect tool for them, also because the command line is so powerful it will probably make their job easier than using the Graphical User Interface. But it will interest you to know that people like me(I haven’t hacked professionally before, well, hacking games is not considered hacking) also love the command line.

A command line is a powerful tool that can even bring destruction, but if learned well it can become a powerful tool in your hands.

Things the command line can do better.

Command Prompt — Advanced Disk Management Commands — The command prompt can be used as a powerful disk manager.

Command Prompt — Advanced Commands for System Information & Managing Active Tasks — The command line can be used as a system manager, you can use it to kill apps, which you can’t kill in task manager.

Command Prompt — Advanced Networking Commands — You can use the command prompt to see your mac address, IP address, and many more.

Command Prompt — Repair Missing or Corrupt Files — Command prompt can repair missing and corrupt Windows files.

Command Prompt — Fix Issues with your Boot Records — The command line can fix your boot loader, boot records, and anything boot-related.