System Administrators Prefer Command Line Interfaces, Don't They? An Exploratory Study of Firewall Interfaces


Artem Voronkov, Leonardo A. Martucci, and Stefan Lindskog, Karlstad University


A graphical user interface (GUI) represents the most common option for interacting with computer systems. However, according to the literature system administrators often favor command line interfaces (CLIs). The goal of our work is to investigate which interfaces system administrators prefer, and which they actually utilize in their daily tasks. We collected experiences and opinions from 300 system administrators with the help of an online survey. All our respondents are system administrators, who work or have worked with firewalls. Our results show that only 32% of the respondents prefer CLIs for managing firewalls, while the corresponding figure is 60% for GUIs. We report the mentioned strengths and limitations of each interface and the tasks for which they are utilized by the system administrators. Based on these results, we provide design recommendations for firewall interfaces.

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@inproceedings {238319,
author = {Artem Voronkov and Leonardo A. Martucci and Stefan Lindskog},
title = {System Administrators Prefer Command Line Interfaces, Don{\textquoteright}t They? An Exploratory Study of Firewall Interfaces},
booktitle = {Fifteenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS 2019)},
year = {2019},
isbn = {978-1-939133-05-2},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
pages = {259--271},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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