GNU / Linux Man Command

GNU / Linux is powerful. GNU / Linux is powerful. GNU / Linux can be confusing …

One of the things that most people fear about GNU / Linux is the command line. You do, most users may never encounter a terminal window on most modern distributions, but when a lot of people think of GNU / Linux, they instantly imagine the command line interface, scrolling text, and gibberish in codes.

Fortunately, learning how to actually use the command line is not as difficult as one might think, especially with the help known as Man pages

Have you ever heard of the abbreviation “RTFM”, or “Read the freakin ‘manual?” This usually revolves around GNU / Linux users who don’t feel like helping a new user with simple questions. Often when they refer to “leadership” they mean Man pages

What Man pages?

In simple terms, Man Pages are documentation or manuals for the various commands used in the command line environment. Many commands, programs / applications, and tools have different “options” that can be used; Man Pages are an absolutely invaluable tool for learning what these different options are and how best to use the command line to suit your needs.

How to use the man command

The man command syntax is very simple and easy to learn to use:

man [options] (keywords)

More often than not, people will not use other variations when they use the man command, just just using man and then just the keyword.

man nano

When using the man command, more often than not, there is no way out of automatically using a program called “Less”, which allows you to view one page in output at a time in full screen mode. After you have viewed the man page from a program or application, you can press the H button to view the help text, which will give you a list of shortcuts to navigate Less.

Some examples taken directly from the Less help page are:

  • Commands marked with * can be preceded by a row, N.
  • Notes in brackets indicate behavior if N. is specified.
  • The key preceding the cursor indicates the Ctrl key; Thus, ^ K Ctrl-K.
  • h H Displaying help on the screen.
  • q: q Q: Q ZZ Output.
  • e ^ E j ^ N CR * Forward one line (or N lines).
  • y ^ Y k ^ K ^ P * Back one line (or N lines).
  • f ^ F ^ V SPACE * Forward one window (or N lines).
  • b ^ B ESC-v * Back one window (or N lines).
  • z * forward one window (and set the window to N).
  • w * back one window (and set the window to N).
  • ESC-SPACE * Bring out one window, but does not stop at the end of the file.
  • d ^ D * Pull out half of the window (and set half of the window N).
  • u ^ U * Back half window (and set half window to N).
  • ESC-) RightArrow * left half of the screen width (or N positions).
  • ESC- (LeftArrow * right half of the screen width (or N positions).
  • F forward forever; like “tail -f”.
  • ESC-F Like F, but stops when the search pattern is found.
  • r ^ R ^ L Screen refresh.
  • R Refreshing the screen, clears the buffered input.

Final Words

Man man is an absolutely invaluable asset, as mentioned above, for learning to use only interface text in the GNU / Linux world. If someday you would like to know more, or find problems with starting programs and applications, this command will always come to the rescue.

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