Command Line Interface

Older operating systems, such as CP/M (the original microcomputer OS) and MS-DOS only offered a text-based command line interface (CLI).  A prompt (eg: C:>) is displayed on the screen to indicate that the CLI is ready to accept input and the user can enter commands. It is still possible to use a command-line interface to Windows XP by using a Command Prompt box, or by clicking on Start|Run and entering a command.

You can find a complete list of the Windows XP command-line commands here.

Commands are often followed by one or more parameters or switches. A parameter provides additional information which the CLI requires in order to carry out its function, eg: the MS-DOS command dir displays a list of the files in a directory or folder:

By itself, it simply lists the files and sub-directories in the folder which is currently open, but if we give it the name of a folder as a parameter, it will list the names of the files and sub-directories in that folder.

A switch is used to modify the way a command executes or how it displays its output. MS-DOS switches are preceded by the forward slash character, “/” and are placed at the end of the command line, after all parameters, eg:

C:> dir windows /p

lists the files in the windows folder, but if there are too many to fit on the screen  it pauses its output until a key is pressed.

Next: Graphical User Interface