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AmigaOS Manual: AmigaDOS Selecting an Interface

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Although the Amiga comes with the Workbench graphical user interface (GUI) and most AmigaDOS operations can be run from the Workbench without opening a Shell window, there are several reasons to also learn how to use the AmigaDOS command line interface. Among the advantages of working directly with AmigaDOS are:

  • Personal preference
Some users prefer working with text and keyboard rather than a mouse and icons. This may be a matter of personal taste or due to familiarity with some other text-based computer system.
  • Workbench limitations
Although most basic operations can be accomplished with equal ease through the Shell or the Workbench, there are functions that can be done only with AmigaDOS commands. These include certain basic system configuration tasks and the running of scripts and utilities that do not have icons. Note that all AmigaDOS functions are available in Workbench using the Execute Command item in the Workbench menu.
  • Speed
Users who can type reasonably well and are familiar with AmigaDOS commands often find that typing a command is faster than performing the equivalent operation with the mouse. This is particularly true when more than one command must be executed. Shell-based capabilities, such as pattern matching and redirection, make some tasks particularly easy when compared to Workbench methods. In addition, the text output of AmigaDOS commands usually displays faster than do requesters and windows full if icons.
  • Control and flexibility
Running programs from the Shell makes it easier to control Amiga Multitasking. Also, when using applications, such as software compilers that offer numerous run-time options, it is Quicker to specify often-changed options a command line than by editing the Tool Types of an icon.
  • Scripting
Performing complex, repetitive, and/or unattended tasks is difficult, if not impossible, using a GUI. Such tasks are ideally suited to scripts, which are text files of AmigaDOS commands.
  • Saving resources for your applications
The text interface requires less memory, disk space, and other system resources than the graphic imagery of a GUI.

Choosing Your Interface

Although some users prefer to use the Shell or the Workbench exclusively, most can make use of both once they learn the basics of AmigaDOS. Because Shell windows open on the Workbench screen, it is easy to switch back and forth between the two methods of working. Whether you do something through the Workbench or the Shell depends on the method that appears easiest to you for that particular task.

Workbench Users

Although you can work primarily in Workbench, we recommend that you become familiar with AmigaDOS because you may need to use AmigaDOS commands or examine a script to determine ist function. The many convenience features of the Amiga Shell make the process of learning and using AmigaDOS considerably easier than most command line systems. If you prefer not to use AmigaDOS directly, you can attach scripts and Shell-only commands to icons.

Shell Users

For Shell users who choose not to open the Workbench, the Amiga's built-in GUI support is still an asset. Shell windows - like Workbench windows - can be quickly moved, sized, depth-adjusted, and opened or closed at will using the mouse. Shell windows can be opened on public screens other than the Workbench. FKey, MouseBlanker, and other Commodity utilities allow you to further customize your command line working environment.