January 14, 2010, 9:07 AM — by Matthew Helmke - Linux, like Unix, is a self-documenting system, with man pages accessible through the man command. But Linux also offers many other helpful commands for accessing its documentation. You can use the apropos command--for example, with a keyword such as partition--to find commands related to partitioning, like this:
$ apropos partition diskdumpfmt (8) - format a dump device or a partition fdisk (8) - Partition table manipulator for Linux GNU Parted [parted] (8) - a partition manipulation program mpartition (1) - partition an MSDOS hard disk MPI_Cart_sub (3) - Partitions a communicator into subgroups which form lower-dimensional cartesian subgrids partprobe (8) - inform the OS of partition table changes pvcreate (8) - initialize a disk or partition for use by LVM sfdisk (8) - Partition table manipulator for Linux
[ See also: Unix How To: Repeating Commands in Bash ]
To find a command and its documentation, you can use the whereis command. For example, if you are looking for the fdisk command, you can do this:
$ whereis fdisk
fdisk: /sbin/fdisk /usr/share/man/man8/fdisk.8.gz
Using Man Pages
To learn more about a command or program, use the man command, followed by the name of the command. Man pages for Linux and X Window commands are within the /usr/share/man, /usr/local/share/man, and /usr/X11R6/man directories; so, for example, to read the rm command's man page, use the man command like this:
$ man rm
[ See also: Favorite Unix Tools & Commands ]
After you press Enter, the less command (a Linux command known as a pager) displays the man page. The less command is a text browser you can use to scroll forward and backward (even sideways) through the document to learn more about the command. Type the letter h to get help, use the forward slash / to enter a search string, or press q to quit.
Although nearly all the hundreds of GNU commands included with Linux each have a man page, you must use the info command to read detailed information about using a GNU command. For example, to learn even more about bash (which has a rather extensive manual page), use the info command like this:
$ info bash
Press the n and p keys to navigate through the document, or scroll down to a menu item on the screen and press Enter to read about a specific feature. Press q to quit reading.
This tip is adapted by Matthew Helmke as based on the book, Ubuntu Unleashed: 2010 Edition (covering 9.10 and 10.4), authored by Andrew Hudson, Paul Hudson, Matthew Helmke and Ryan Troy, ISBN 0672331098, published by SAMS Dec. 2009, Copyright 2010 by SAMS Publishing.
For a complete table of contents, please visit: www.informit.com/title/0672331098
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