The process on turning ideas into reality

January 16th 2019

Getting Started with iTerm2

When starting out on your programming journey it might not be immediately obvious that you need to be familiar with the Terminal. This incredibly useful (and sometimes intimidating) tool allows you to have much more power than utilizing GUI's alone. 

In this tutorial, I will cover what a terminal is, how to set up iTerm and then list some recommendations for getting familiar with the command line. Note that there are many different terminals and the most commonly used ones based off of their operating systems are these:

  • Mac OSX: Terminal, iTerm2
  • Windows: PuTTY
  • Linux: Terminal, KDE Konsole, XTERM

I'll be focusing on the Mac Terminal which is an application that allows you to enter commands in the command line. You can find it inside the Utilities folder. Another quick way to pull it up is to press Command + Space and type in "Terminal" inside the search bar. 

Now for some definitions: 

  • The console is the physical terminal
  • A terminal is the text input/output environment 
  • Shell is the command line interface. There are several shells such as Bourne shell (sh), Bourne-Again shell (bash), and Z shell (zsh). 
  • Command Line is the actual line in the console where you type commands 
  • Prompt is the beginning of the command line which is typically denoted with a $ to indicate that the command should be executed as a regular user and a # is typically used to indicate it should be executed by root.

Confused? It's okay! There are different types of users on your machine. Think of the root user as the super-powered user that can change ANYTHING on the system. A regular user doesn't have the same type of superpowers. The main takeaway? Be VERY cautious if you are in root. 

Setting up iTerm 2 

When I started my programming journey part of the process of setting up my machine was to use iTerm 2. Another terminal emulator its comes packed full of extra features such as split panes, search, autocomplete, mouseless copy, paste history, instant replay, configurability, a plethora of beautiful colors and so much more! Check out a full list of features and their descriptions here

To get started open up your terminal and type in 

brew cask install iterm2

And that's it! Or if you want to download it from their site go here and click on the big download button.