Linux for Starters: Your Guide to Linux – Getting Help – Part 11

Last Updated on May 22, 2022

Man Pages

Besides the Ubuntu Desktop Guide, your 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.

The sheer number can make it difficult to quickly find what you are looking for, or to understand the key options that are available. Step forward tldr.

Page 3 – tldr

Pages in this article:
Page 1 – Ubuntu Desktop Guide
Page 2 – Man Pages
Page 3 – tldr
Page 4 – Other commands: whatis, apropos, info, command options

All articles in this series:

Linux For Starters: Your Guide to Linux
1What is Linux? Why use Linux? What do I need?
2Choose a Linux distribution meeting your specific needs and requirements.
3Make a bootable Ubuntu USB stick in Windows.
4We show you how to install Ubuntu 21.04 on your hard disk.
5Things to do after installing Ubuntu.
6Navigating your way around the Desktop.
7Updating the system, install new software.
8Open source replacements for proprietary Windows desktop software.
9Get started with the power and flexibility of the terminal.
10We cover the basics of files and permissions.
11Getting help from your system.
12Learn all about the file system.
13Manipulating files from the shell.
14Maintain your system with these simple tips.
15Managing users on your system.
16Explore different desktops to GNOME 3.
17Gaming on Linux.
18Protect your privacy with this guide.
19Access the Windows desktop from Linux using a remote desktop client.
20Set up a virtual machine running Ubuntu as the host and openSUSE as the guest.
21Wine lets you run Windows programs on Linux without emulation.
22Extend your GNOME desktop with extensions and themes.
XUseful Linux commands.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

tldr is definitely worth installing. The man pages are often impenetrable to me. As you say Steve, listing every option without any order of importance is baffling to a beginner.

it has over 33,000 stars on GitHub

Jumbo Cod
Jumbo Cod
2 years ago

I suggest you take a look at explainshell

2 years ago
Reply to  Jumbo Cod

Great call