How to Use a Man Page: Faster Than a Google Search

Linux manual pages are easier to use than you think and hold a wealth of information.

It’s easy to get into the habit of googling anything you want to know about a command or operation in Linux, but I’d argue there’s something even better: a living and breathing, complete reference, the man pages, which is short for manual pages.

The history of man pages predates Linux, all the way back to the early days of Unix. According to Wikipedia, Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson wrote the first man pages in 1971, well before the days of personal computers, around the time when many calculators in use were the size of toaster ovens. Man pages also have a reputation of being terse and, in a way, have a language of their own. Just like Unix and Linux, the man pages have not been static, and they continue to be developed and maintained just like the kernel.


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