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En el principio... fue la línea de comandos

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3.79  ·  Rating details ·  6,682 Ratings  ·  338 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
Paperback, Mapas, 158 pages
Published May 2003 by Traficantes De Sueños (first published 1999)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Greg
Sep 09, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Sandy
Sep 16, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Derek
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"People who use [GUIs] have abdicated the responsibility, and surrendered the power, of sending bits directly to a chip that's doing the arithmetic, and handed that responsibility and power to the O.S."[p. 61]
I've worked in three separate operating system kernels in my twenty year old career, and find that statement astonishing. Not just because it is completely inaccurate, but because it feels like a weird assertion airlifted in from the lunatic fringe.

But just as my eyes are about to start goi
...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
Tracey
Sep 05, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-text
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
James
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
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
Courtney
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
Xan
Oct 07, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
May 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Ashish
Sep 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
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
Lisa
Sometimes I can be a complete plonker, but never more so than when I start grabbing virtual copies of books without bothering to read their descriptions. Which is how what I thought would be a little slice of sci-fi turned out to be an essay on computer operating systems.

I’m far more computer-friendly than most people I know and also have a thing about always finishing what I start, but for the first time in years I couldn’t bring myself to finish this, giving no shits whatsoever about the subje
...more
Lync Lync
Nov 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At only 151 pages this should have been a doddle, but the text is as densely packed as any of Neal Stehpenson's fiction works. Published about 17 years ago, it is amazing how little has changed given how much things changed since the 20 years or so before this dissertation. At least in computer land, that is. The really big change since this was published has been the rise of miniatursation leading not to better interfaces but better phones and smaller portable computers such as the laptop, then ...more
Kathleen
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
David
Mar 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: computers
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
Nacho
Nov 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aunque un poco anticuado (se escribió en 1999), es un libro con gran cantidad de puntos de vista interesantes acerca del mundo de la informática y los sistemas operativos que te arranca más de una carcajada. Recomendable!
Josh
Apr 26, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dated.

I should install Linux.
Shane
Jul 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this a goodly time back. Great stuff...
John
May 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ownebook
A few dud universes can really clutter up your basement.

- Neal Stephenson, "In The Beginning. . . was the Command Line"


What a fun read. It's about technology, sure, but more about culture. Neal takes a good look at operating systems, why we get emotionally involved with them, and why Windows is still so popular. He does this with a grand detour to Disneyland, and a hefty dose of humor. The above quote was from near the end of the book, where he imagines hackers creating big bangs from the comman
...more
Zorabike
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
Remo
Apr 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: informatica, ensayo, 2005
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
Nacho
Jan 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essay, technology
He llegado tarde a leer "En el principio… fue la linea de comandos." El escenario que plantea Neal Stephenson (cuando escribió este libro a principios de 1999) ha desaparecido por completo. BeOS, que para Stephenson era el paradigma de sistema operativo que marcaría el camino ya no existe desde hace más de un lustro y fue consumido por su propia utopía. El cruce de cuatro carreteras ya no tiene más que tres esquinas.

La hegemonía de Microsoft en el ámbito de los sistemas operativos no ha hecho má
...more
Jane Sandberg
Aug 27, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tech
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
Erika
Jan 18, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 2014
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
Baal Of
Aug 25, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A bit of a mixed bag, this book is interesting as insight into Stephenson's thought processes around computers, and reveals in a small way how his love of programming bleeds over into his novels. But he definitely relies too heavily on metaphor, which can be taken too far, and can also be twisted in pretty much any view point one wants to emphasize. Stephenson seems to be a bit judgmental towards people who want to be able to just use their computers for specific purposes, and have no interest i ...more
Daniel Noguchi
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You have to put yourself in the mindset from the time this book was written. I was the late 90s, where none of the computational wonders of today were close to being usable (cloud applications, mobile apps, etc). At that time, local applications that you had to install in your system dominated the market. Meanwhile, Linux started becoming almost usable for an non tech savvy end user (remember, Ubuntu wasn't around until 2004). This reads like a cultural analysis of the Computer Software of the t ...more
Chris McClinch
Jan 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Bombadillo
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
Kendra
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel like I just listened to my grandfather say really smart things about something he cares about for two and a half hours. Wry, philosophical, filled with big words I had fun looking up. Outdated now, and certainly opinion-driven rather than hyperfactual, but an overall entertaining and interesting little read.
Laura
Jan 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Stan Gunn
Shelves: kindle, non-fiction, 2014
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.
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Neal Stephenson is the author of Reamde, Anathem, and the three-volume historical epic the Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World), as well as Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, Snow Crash, and Zodiac. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
More about Neal Stephenson...

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“A few dud universes can really clutter up your basement.” 12 likes
“I use emacs, which might be thought of as a thermonuclear word processor.” 10 likes
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