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See also: Text | Command Line Interface | Console

A phrase used to describe a text-only system with no graphics or windows. Sometimes used in the DOS and *Nix worlds to describe the command-line interface, as opposed to a Graphical User Interface. "The console" is also used frequently to describe this interface.

A distinction may be made between interfaces that can be addressed at a pixel-by-pixel level (using a pointing device) versus those that are addressed only via a character stream (often with just a keyboard).

This distinction is illustrated by comparing three categories:

  • A purely text program like the bash shell

This last category of programs incorporate some GUI-like aspects, in that they include elements of two-dimensional graphic-design layouts including distinct windows, yet they do not need much of the software necessary to support input or output at an arbitrary, bit-mapped level. The console or terminal emulation support used to provide a CLI interface is often sufficient to use with a program written to use ncurses.