Introduction to the man pages
The command line tool man explains and provides guidances on how to operate Unix-based systems/tools. I want to do my first blog post on the man pages because its a foundation to future blog posts. Knowing about this essential tool will equip people with a better understanding of how to find information about a specific tool and how it can be used.
The manual also known as
man is split into 8 standard sections organized by categories. These standard sections of the manual are :
- 1 for Executable programs or shell commands
- 2 for System calls (functions provided by the kernel)
- 3 for Library calls (functions within program libraries)
- 4 for Special files (usually found in /dev)
- 5 for File formats and conventions eg /etc/passwd
- 6 for Games et. Al.
- 7 for Miscellaneous
- 8 for System administration commands (usually only for root)
- 9 for Kernel routines [Non standard] (Bonus depending on distribution)
These categories will help you find the manual entry you need for the task you acquire. An on-line tool to search tools by section is Man Sections. The command line version to search by sections is
man -s <section> intro.
Standardized layout for the man pages
There is standardized documentation layout for the man pages. The man pages documentation are as followed :
- NAME : Provides the name of the command and a one line description of the tool.
- Synopsis : Provides an overview on how to run the tool and what proper usage are available.
- Description : Provides a textual description of the functioning of the subjected command.
- Options : Gives a description of how each option affects program behaviour.
- Files : List the files the program or function uses.
- Environment : List all the enviroment variables that are affected by this program or function.
- BUGS : In the linux world this would be considered the to do section.
- Author : Self Explanitory, This gives a section for contact information.
- See Also : Provides a list of related commands.
man ssh - This example shows the name, synopsis, description.
Quote of the day :
In Respect to Muhammad Ali who has passsed away on June 3rd, 2016, I quote him today.
Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth. - Muhammad Ali