En el principio... fue la línea de comandos
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En el principio... fue la línea de comandos

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  5,018 ratings  ·  247 reviews
Existe todo un empeño por parte de los fabricantes de software en ocultar como funcionan realmente los ordenadores. Las metáforas visuales, las interfaces gráficas simplifican el uso de los PC, pero al precio de que se viva la tecnología como algo mistificado, mágico, sin conexión alguna entre causas y efectos. Por el contrario una corriente que se remonta a los orígenes d...more
154 pages
Published (first published 1999)
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This essay is nearly 8 years old, and in dire need of an update. So in 2004 Grant Birkel set out to do just that, producing a set of comments called "The Command Line in 2004". It's freely available on the web, and I suggest you read that version instead of the (older) book.

As far as Stephenson's original writing: Wow, what a disappointment. I think Neil Stephenson writes some fun and highly entertaining fiction, and I really enjoyed both Snow Crash and The Diamond Age. However, this was a subje...more
A dated look at the Linux, Windows and Mac OSes (written circa 1999). Stephenson's enthusiasm for anything cool and hackerish - solely based on it's hackerishness - is a trait that informs a lot of his fiction works in a very positive way (his ability to dive into technical miscellany and history, his enthusiasm in imagining where neat things are headed), but unfortunately backfires here, in a straightforward essay on then-modern operating systems and, eventually, why Linux is the best of them....more
Recently finished the e-book version of this; not sure if it was the whole book or the lengthy essay that the book was based on - since I read it on & off over the past few months, I didn't get a good feel for how long it was.

It's bit dated (at one point he indicates he is writing a portion in Jan of 1999), but still has some excellent observations on the past, present and future of personal computers, as well as human acceptance of & interaction with computer interfaces. He examines th...more
Duffy Pratt
This is a fifteen year old essay on operating systems that is still interesting, in a few ways. It has some nice ideas about operating systems and information systems in general. Because it's by Stephenson, it's fun, well presented, geeky but well written. And, because it's by Stephenson, it casts some light on things that appear in his (better) novels.

He contrasts four operating systems: OSX, Windows, Linux, and BeOS. Of these, he hates the first two, primarily because the GUI takes away the co...more
Siempre he querido ser un hacker, un nerd de la informática, uno de esos seres privilegiados que son capaces de entender que se oculta tras las lineas de código de un programa. Lamentablemente mi razonamiento lógico es incompatible con la lógica matemática y con la programación. Soy un espectador que juega con los botones del ordenador tratando de sintonizar un canal que emita lo que busco en ese momento.
Con el primer ordenador que tuve en mis manos, un Spectrum, descubrí que programar era lento...more
Bill Coffin
Neal Stephenson, a guy with no small degree of technical knowledge when it comes to computers, published this essay/book in 1999, at a time when the Internet was old but the World Wide Web was new (and changing everything), and when Apple was having its second Steve Jobs halcyon, on the verge of launching iTunes, the iPod, and creating the kind of retail tsunami from what Stephenson would derisively call "hermetically sealed" operations systems.

And for all this, what we get from "In the Beginnin...more
This ridiculous collection of interrelated essays by Neal Stephenson manages to be both dated and contemporary, depending on whether you're still ranting about the advance of computer operating systems, or you've accepted the inevitable but are frustrated with its intractable failings.

Stephenson wrote this book in 1998 and '99, and in it he rails against Windows and the Mac OS for taking away the power of the DOS prompt and making us all view computers visually. A professional writer, he believe...more
Part instructional essay, part political treatise, but ultimately I've got no idea who it's aimed at. It's Neal Stephenson's explanation as to why he believes the command line interface is the 'best' way to interact with a computer. That the GUI is only a metaphor for controlling the computer, a mediated experience that removes too much of both the control and the power that the command line interface allows. Stephenson doesn't go so far (as some reviews have suggested) as pushing for the remova...more
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
May 11, 2011 Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: computer geeks, technology historians, and Neal Stephenson fans
I'm not sure if this is interesting but fundamentally dated, or dated but fundamentally interesting. One of the two.

I first read this around the time it was published, when it was released for free as a file on Neal Stephenson's web site. This was so long ago that no one used the word "ebook," at least not as a matter of course. I think the book may have been released simultaneously as a dead tree book and as a distribute-for-free file under the GPL or something similar, but the difficulty of fi...more
The book is a very short collection of fun essays, often hilarous. Yet it is hopelessly out of date, as the computer world has moved very far since 1999. Stephenson hates both Microsoft Windows and Apple's MacOS, because they are both proprietary. He loves Linux and BeOS, because they are open-source. He also loves the command line, because of the power and precision that it gives the user. On the other hand, he realizes that the command line approach is fraught with an amazingly steep learning...more
Though I enjoyed the book and found it pretty interesting, it took a fair amount of sifting to get to the tasty bits due to the fact that some of it is outdated and some of it is geeky beyond my interest level.

It seems that a lot of readers took Stephenson as a snooty intellectual who thinks you're sort of a moron if you prefer the warm bath of Disney-like interfaces and mediated experiences that filter out what's challenging (and interesting and useful). Because what you should want is the cold...more
This essay is outdated, misses the point on a lot of things, and is a bit too dogmatic - everyone must have the same needs and abilities and priorities as I do, so why isn't everyone making the same choice I make. They are obviously the correct choices!

It actually reminds me a lot of American boomer nostalgia for the good old days. Just as they conveniently forget everything shitty about the past, and only wax on about what they remember as the simple and halcyon parts, Neal too willfully judges...more
Jane Sandberg
An strange little essay, originally released for free on the website for Stephenson's book Cryptonomicon (and, incidentally, still available there). In the essay, Stephenson offers clear, intuitive definitions to concepts such as Operating Systems, UNIX, and Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs), before extolling the virtues of command line interfaces.

For me, this book fell into a really weird gray area. I certainly learned things from it; when Stephenson is presenting information, he presents it wel...more
This. Is. Mindblowing.

A tiny little thing, just a long essay, really, yet so packed with one explosive idea after another, brilliantly and beautifully written, sliding under your overconsciousness like the cutting razor edge of broken glass and stripping the carefully-pasted skin and gloss of perception off the world you see around you - smashing illusions, firing x-rays through groupthink and consensual mass delusion, laying bare the way the world actually works underneath how we think it does...more
Chris McClinch
Fascinating look into operating systems and the need for interfaces. Many of the specifics are, of course, dated, as you would expect of any book about computers written over a decade before it was read. The underlying concepts, however, are still entirely fresh. The book looks at Windows, MacOS, Linux, and BeOS, explaining what each are, what they represent, who uses them, why Linux and BeOS are inherently superior, and why they will probably never capture the mindshare that Windows and MacOS e...more
Dated as any ten year old book about computing is going to be, I still highly recommend this exploration of the Operating System. A great deal of the history of Microsoft and Apple has now become myth, but Stephenson breaks it down nicely as what it really is--two corporations trying to make money. His metaphors--and the idea of the operating system as a metaphor--displayed the deft mastery of writing that one expects from him as an author. His broad knowledge of computing explained how he becam...more
The use of metaphors in this essay is quite ironic.They were funny for a while but then it got to the point of being complete BS. They make very little sense and actually add confusion to the novice/n00b rather than simplify. His hate for everything windows is illogical. Most programs have vulnerabilities, instead of explaining the root cause of why the operating system doesn't work as intended he goes on about first-worldly issues on how he lost formatting over an out of date word document, and...more
Dave Maddock
This is what I imagine having a beer with Neal in the late 90s must've been like. He's made me all nostalgic for my parent's basement circa 1995 where I first installed an early Linux distro on a cobbled together 386 from a stack of floppy discs. Good times.

Of course, it is a bit dated now with its discussion of BeOS and pre-OSX Macs, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. It is interesting to consider how Neal's comments on the battle between Apple and Microsoft operating systems in the 90s a...more
Jan 05, 2014 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Stan Gunn
A beautifully written explanation of operating systems: how they work, what they do, how they do it. He also delves into the differences between Apple, Microsoft, Be, and Linux. Simple enough for me to understand and appreciate. Stephenson also goes into American culture and explains why consumers respond to these corporations/organizations as we do. Very thought provoking.
After reading The Cryptonomicon, I started looking for a decent history of the development of the computer, and I came across this tiny tome. If it hadn't had Neal Stephenson's name on it, I wouldn't even have pulled it off the shelf.

Who would have thought someone could make such a geeky subject matter interesting and relevant?
Read it when I was first getting into computers, and it helped to convince me that having this arcane skill would, in fact, make me really freaking cool. Lying bastard.
If I had read this in 1999 I probably would have installed BeOS the next day instead of SUSE Linux, which I was knee deep in at the time. Even if BeOS is now long gone, the author had it right about OSes tending to become free, and it appears to live on as the open source Haiku. This is still a good introduction to these kind of dramas, even if the companies involved have since shifted positions. And it's a fine ode to the command line, which still holds strong under the hood, where I continue t...more
Read this a goodly time back. Great stuff...
I'm too technically literate to be the target demographic for this book, which does an excellent job of exploring and explaining the strange and churning world of computer operating systems to the layman. It's a little dated at this point, especially with the advent of Apple's OS X and Microsoft's furtive forays into the open-source realm, but as a history primer on why the software industry is the way it is, it's pretty decent.

Stephenson's main argument is that the way we choose to use computer...more
I wouldn't have read this if I didn't enjoy Stephenson quite a bit. What I appreciate about his writing is that he can be deadly serious and hilarious at the same time. Oh and he researches everything to death.

Anyway I'm on a Stephenson kick and had just finished Anathem and Diamond Age. Confusion (Baroque Cycle #2) was up next, but Quicksilver (Baroque Cycle #1) kicked my ass pretty badly. I wanted something a little lighter.

If you're a computer nerd, this is not particularly informative. I al...more
Amanda BeReckonedwith
Jun 07, 2010 Amanda BeReckonedwith rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amanda by: Bruce Fulton, 672
Shelves: lis, essays, reviewed
This is a seriously dated screed on why Linux is awesome and you are an idiot for not adopting it. It is seemingly written to annoy everyone, whether you like Linux or not. But that also makes it a little charming, but only a little.

This isn't even really a book. It's an essay. From 1999. (and it's pretty easy to find online.)
There is an amusing annotation and update to this essay here: http://garote.bdmonkeys.net/commandli...
But even that is from 2004, so for the purposes of comparing operatin...more
Jul 07, 2012 Nate rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Techies and nerds who fought with early 1990s PCs
Stephenson's book, I found, to be a [slightly] meandering essay about his experience with operating systems. Set in the 1990s when he wrote it, he provides what is largely his take on the genesis of the major operating systems that he has experienced. It is as the back of the book says: "... a thoughtful, irreverent, hilarious treatise on the cyber-culture past and present, on operating system tyrannies and downloaded popular revolutions; on the Internet, Disney World, Big Bangs, not to mention...more
A NS le han encuadrado siempre en la literatura “ciberpunk”, que vaya usted a saber lo que es. NS es, en mi humilde opinión, un tipo que escribe de puta madre sobre cualquier tema, y especialmente sobre aquellos que tengan que ver con la tecnología en general y los ordenadores en particular. La edición que he leído es el original inglés, pero el libro está traducido al español y, lo que es aún mejor, se puede leer gratis en la Red.
Se trata de un ensayo sobre los sistemas operativos (Dios mío, si...more
I read this right after re-reading Snow Crash, and it's a little funny how much Neal Stephenson writes like himself. This was the first non-fiction of his that I've read, but it wasn't much of a surprise, as it stuck pretty close to what you'd expect from him.

That said, it doesn't have the benefit of other Stephenson books of being science fiction, and so instead of talking about the future, he talks a lot about the present. (I know that sounds funny, and that science fiction writers just descri...more
Neal Stephenson's "In the Beginning... was the Command Line" is not a novel. It's an essay. So when you go into it with the mentality that it's a book, you'll be heavily disappointed with the lack of detail. But you may just as disappointed either way!

I should first tell you all that I'm a huge Stephenson fan. I loved Diamond Age, Snow Crash, Reamde, Cryptonomicon and - presently in the process of reading - Quick Silver (Baroque Cycle, Book 1). What really interests me the most about Stephenson'...more
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Neal Town Stephenson is an American writer known primarily for his science fiction works in the postcyberpunk genre with a penchant for explorations of society, mathematics, cryptography, currency, and the history of science. He also writes non-fiction articles about technology in publications such as Wired Magazine, and has worked part-time as an advisor for Blue Origin, a company (funded by Jeff...more
More about Neal Stephenson...
Snow Crash Cryptonomicon (Cryptonomicon, #1) The Diamond Age Anathem Reamde

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