Questions tagged [man]

man - format and display the on-line manual pages ("on-line" meaning “on the computer”, as opposed to “on paper”, not “on the Internet”)

A traditional Unix documentation system, man is the main documentation scheme on most Unix-like OS's.

According to man itself, it is:

an interface to the on-line reference manuals.

The pages are usually written in English, with translations sometimes provided.

Man topics fall into these numbered sections, though section numbers may differ from system to system:

  • 1 - Executable programs and shell commands, eg. man aspell or man 1 aspell

  • 2 - System calls (kernel functions), eg. man delete_module or man 2 delete_module

  • 3 - Library calls, eg. man 3 assert

  • 4 - Special files (usually devices found in /dev) and drivers, eg. man console

  • 5 - File formats and conventions, eg. man bounce

  • 6 - Games and screensavers, eg: man gnome-mahjongg

  • 7 - Miscellaneous (including macro packages and conventions), e.g. man 7 man, man x

  • 8 - System administration commands (usually only for root), e.g. man wpa_passphrase

  • 9 - Kernel routines [Non standard]

  • 0 - C library header files [Non standard]

Section numbers are used in man calls for disambiguation, when there are documents for the same names, but different topics, in different sections, eg.

  • man 2 exit for exit kernel function terminating the calling process immediately, and

  • man 3 exit for a standard library function call that causes normal termination of the process.

Similar documentation standards

Shell built-ins usually do not have their separate man pages. Their short description can be viewed with the help command.

In recent years, software providers often choose info pages as their documentation scheme.

Useful commands

  • Man pages of man

    man man

Further reading

Internal links

External links

See also

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Why does man print "gimme gimme gimme" at 00:30?

We've noticed that some of our automatic tests fail when they run at 00:30 but work fine the rest of the day. They fail with the message gimme gimme gimme in stderr, which wasn't expected. Why are we getting this output?
Jaroslav Kucera
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What do the numbers in a man page mean?

So, for example, when I type man ls I see LS(1). But if I type man apachectl I see APACHECTL(8) and if I type man cd I end up with cd(n). I'm wondering what the significance of the numbers in the parentheses are, if they have any.
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Ctrl-s hangs the terminal emulator?

I came across a sentence in vimdoc: Note: CTRL-S does not work on all terminals and might block further input, use CTRL-Q to get going again. and using CTRL-S indeed hangs my vim. I was thinking that it was vims fault, since there…
Hongxu Chen
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How to follow links in linux man pages?

Is there a way to follow the links mentioned in a man page? For example, here's the man page for ps; how do I access the underlined link circled in red in the screenshot: top(1)?
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How do I use man pages to learn how to use commands?

While researching another problem, I came across a command, locate something | xargs -I {} bash -c "if [ -d "{}" ]; then echo {}; fi" that I wanted to learn more about. So I ran man xargs and get the following output: XARGS(1) …
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Tricks and tips for finding information in man pages

Does anyone have any tricks and tips for finding information in man pages?
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Colors in Man Pages

When I look at a man page in my 'console' (not an xterm) I see some coloration, but I don't get this in my xterm's (e.g. konsole) is there any way I can enable this? hopefully a fairly simple solution?
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Can I get individual man pages for the bash builtin commands?

Is there anywhere you can download a manpage for every builtin commands? I know you can just use help or man bash and search to find info about it, but I want them separated, so I can just do man read and get the read manpage.
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What units of time does "top" use?

If I issue the "top" command and receive results such as: PID USER PR NI VIRT RES SHR S %CPU %MEM TIME+ COMMAND 00001 bob 25 0 77380 1212 1200 R 95.8 0.0 89122:13 fee 00002 bob 25 0 77380 1196 1184 R 95.4 0.0 …
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How to dump a man page?

How can I 'cat' a man page like I would 'cat' a file to get just a dump of the contents?
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What is GNU Info for?

I understand what GNU Info is and how to use it, but what is it for? Why does it exist in parallel to the man pages? Why not write detailed man pages rather than provide a separate utility?
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Documentation on LESS_TERMCAP_* variables?

I see these pretty colors in manpages viewed with less when setting a bunch of these variables. What do they mean, where is the documentation? Is this interpreted by less or termcap? screenshot
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Why don't man pages have examples?

Is there a reason why most man pages don't include a few common examples? They usually explain all the possible options, but that makes it even harder for a beginner to understand how it's "usually" used.
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Difference between help, info and man command

I know that these command will help to get syntax and options for commands but my question is that how they differ from each other?
Rupesh Pawar
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How can I add man page entries for my own power tools?

I have no idea about how I can make my home-grown specialist scripts (written mostly in Bash and Perl) available through the man pages. What procedure would I have to follow, and is there a particular format that the documentation needs to be…
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