Operating system shells generally fall into one of two categories: command line and graphical. Command line shells provide a command line interface (CLI) to the operating system, while graphical shells provide a graphical user interface (GUI).
A graphical user interface (GUI) is a human-computer interface (i.e., a way for humans to interact with computers) that uses windows, icons and menus and which can be manipulated by a mouse (and often to a limited extent by a keyboard as well).
GUIs stand in sharp contrast to command line interfaces (CLIs), which use only text and are accessed solely by a keyboard. The most familiar example of a CLI to many people is MS-DOS. Another example is Linux when it is used in console mode (i.e., the entire screen shows text only).
The relative merits of CLI- and GUI-based shells are often debated. CLI proponents claim that certain operations can be performed much faster under CLI shells than under GUI shells (such as moving files, for example). However, GUI proponents advocate the comparative usability and simplicity of GUI shells. The best choice is often determined by the way in which a computer will be used. On a server mainly used for data transfers and processing with expert administration, a CLI is likely to be the best choice. On the other hand, a GUI would be more appropriate for a computer to be used for image or video editing and the development of the above data.
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