Alternatives to popular CLI tools: man

A Linux system comes with a whole collection of system reference manuals (known as man pages). There’s a man page for each command or program.

You can access the man pages from the terminal by issuing the command man followed by the command or program you want to learn about. For example, to learn about the ls command, type at a shell:

$ man ls

Many man pages include the following sections:

  • NAME: The name of the command you are reading about.
  • SYNOPSIS: Provides a succinct description of a few of the options available. It’s a technical notation of the options and/or arguments this command can take.
  • DESCRIPTION: A more detailed description of the command including how it works, and what it does.
  • OPTIONS: Describes in detail all the arguments or options you can use with the command.
  • EXAMPLES: Shows you a few use cases and how the command can be used.
  • AUTHOR: The name(s) of the program’s author(s).
  • COPYRIGHT: Who owns the copyright to the software and what license it’s published under.
  • SEE ALSO: A reference to other relevant man pages.

Here’s the man page for the top command.

Linux for Starters - man page for top command

You can move, search, jump using key presses. When viewing a man page press h to view all the keyboard shortcuts.

The system’s man pages contain a wealth of useful information. But sometimes it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. Even experienced users can be bamboozled by the sheer complexity of some man pages. Many tools have been in development for decades and have, over time, had feature upon feature added. Some commands and programs have a huge number of options.

This article spotlights alternatives tools to man.

Alternatives to man
tldrSimplified and community-driven man pages
cheat.shUnified access to the best community driven cheat sheets repositories
explainshellMatch command-line arguments to their help text
tealdeerFast implementation of tldr pages in Rust
tldr++Community driven man pages improved with smart user interaction
cheatCreate and view interactive cheatsheets on the command-line
tldr-python-clientPython command-line client for tldr
tldr.eltldr client for Emacs
tlrctldr client written in Rust
bropagesReadable supplement to man pages
Have we missed any open source alternatives to man? Please let us know!
Other alternative tools to manx

All the CLI tools in this series.

Alternatives to CLI tools
age // awk // bc // cal // cat // cd // chmod // cksum // cloc // cmp // compress // cp // cron // curl // cut // date // dd // df // diff // dig // du // find // ftp // grep // gzip // hexdump // history // jq // kill // less // locate // ls // lsof // make // man // more // mv / ping // ps // psql // rename // rm // sed // split // ssh // strings // sudo // sysctl // talk // tar // telnet // time // top // touch // traceroute // tree // uname // uniq // uptime // vi // watch // Wget // who // whois // xargs

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The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.

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Ivan the awful
Ivan the awful
11 months ago
Have we missed any open source alternatives to man? Please let us know!" Read more »

You missed out bropages. Step up guys

Big Col
Big Col
11 months ago
Have we missed any open source alternatives to man? Please let us know!" Read more »

There’s tlrc, a tldr client written in Rust.