The best way to learn more about a command is usually its man
page. The man command is a Linux command that searches several
locations on the system for manual pages, or documentation that is
distributed electronically with most Linux software.
To access the man page for a specific command, enter the man
commandand provide the command
you wish to learn more about as an argument.
$ man ls
LS(1) User Commands
ls - list directory contents
ls [OPTION]... [FILE]...
List information about the FILEs (the current direc-
tory by default). Sort entries alphabetically if none
of -cftuvSUX nor --sort.
Mandatory arguments to long options are mandatory for
short options too.
do not ignore entries starting with .
do not list implied . and ..
with -l, print the author of each file
print octal escapes for nongraphic characters
The man pages are typically displayed on the screen in
the less file viewer, very similar to more, in which the arrow keys
can be used to navigate, or ‘space’ used to move a page down and ‘b’
to move a page up. The man pages are typically displayed in the
format shown above. First, there is the command name with a short
description, then a synopsis that shows the order of options and
arguments that can be used with this command.
Next is a more detailed description of the command followed by
all the valid options for the given command. It is not unusual for
a command to have dozens of options. This can be quite overwhelming
at first, but the more these commands are used, the more comfortable
one will become with their options.
Knowing how to read and interpret the man pages is essential to
learning about commands, but without a firm foundation they will
have little meaning. Hopefully, at this point parts of the man
pages are better understood, and by the end of the next chapter,
most of what the man pages have to offer should also be understood.
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