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

Last Updated on May 22, 2022


The tldr project is a collection of community-maintained help pages for command-line tools, that aims to be a simpler, more approachable complement to traditional man pages.

Unlike man pages, tldr help pages aren’t pre-installed on Ubuntu. Fortunately, installation is straightforward.


On a fresh installation of Ubuntu 21.04, we use npm, a package manager for the JavaScript programming language. to install tldr’s client. First we need to install npm.

$ sudo apt install npm

Next we install tldr using npm.

$ sudo npm install -g tldr

Using tldr

At a shell type tldr followed by the command or program you want to learn more about.

When the program is run for the first time, the software updates the cache and creates an index of all the community pages.

In the image below, we show the information for cp, a command used to copy files or group of files or directories.

tldr - cp

As you can see, we’re presented with succinct and pertinent information. Rather than listing every option in alphabetical order as man pages do, the community that maintains the tldr database covers the key options and sorts them with helpful explanatory text with examples.

Sometimes you’ve been browsing the tldr community pages. You can’t remember which specific page you were reviewing but can remember a specific word or phrase. There’s a --search option which searches through the tldr database and displays matches for the search term. In the example below, we’re searching for any page that contains the word nested.

tldr - search

If you like to find out about new commands and programs, there’s a couple of options that show a random command or a random example.

tldr - random command

tldr - random example

tldr is definitely worth installing whatever your level of Linux knowledge.

Page 4 – Other commands: whatis, apropos, info, command options

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.
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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