Linux Guide/Operating modes
Text Console Mode
When running Linux in a text console mode, the user is presented with a "command shell" and is able to type commands and have the system respond appropriately. In this example text console interaction, the user has typed the command "date" and the date and time was then displayed:
root@3[root]# date Sun Nov 14 16:29:43 EST 2004 root@3[root]#
In many cases, accessing a system in text console mode may be more appropriate than running a GUI system. Often, such systems are operating as "servers", examples of which include web servers or database servers. Servers are not normally accessed directly by people, except those that tend to their operation, instead their primary function is to operate in a network context.
When running a Graphical User Interface (GUI) mode, a range of options are presented to the user through a visual interface consisting of menus, icons and other visual and textual representations.
When a system is used as a general purpose desktop environment, a GUI is normally considered desirable as many feel it provides a more intuitive way to perform many tasks and provides a pleasant, colorful environment enabling rich graphical representations of various documents. Even so, advanced users who operate a GUI enabled system will often spend a significant time entering commands in text console mode, often through a window in their GUI environment known as an xterm in the X Window System.
As a system boots it typically displays a series of messages indicating the status (success or failure) of the various attempts to load software, and communicate with the various peripheral devices that may be attached to the machine. These messages can be retrieved at a later time by using the dmesg command at a console prompt.
Once the boot process is complete, most systems will display, in one of various forms, a login prompt and challenge the user to provide the correct password for that user to access the system.