Unless your Linux machine is
an Internet server or gateway
machine, there probably will be users on it. Users
need to access the system somehow. Either they access the systems across
a network using a remote terminal program like telnet, rlogin, or
access file systems using NFS. Also, like users typically do on
Windows, they might log in directly to the system. With Linux, this (probably) is done from a
terminal and the system must be told how to behave with the specific terminal that you are using.
Increasingly people are using graphical user interfaces (GUIs) to do much of
their work. With many distributions a lot of the work is still done using the
command line, which means they need a terminal,
whether or not it is displayed
within a graphical window.
In live environments that use Linux (such as where I work), you do not have the
access to a graphical interface on all systems (for security
reasons, among other things). Therefore, the only way to remotely administer the system is
through telnet, which typically requires a terminal
window. In cases like this, it is common to move from one operating system
type to another (Linux to Sun, or vis-versa). Therefore, knowledge of terminal settings capabilities is often very useful.
When we talk about terminals, we are not just talking about the old fashioned CRT that is
hooked up to your computer through a serial port. Instead, we are talking about any command-line
(or shell) interface to the system. This includes serial terminals, telnet connections and even
the command-line window that you can start from your GUI.