The Linux man command

The “man” command in Linux is a command-line utility used to display the manual pages (also known as man pages) of other commands and system functions. The man pages contain detailed information, documentation, and usage instructions for various commands, programs, and system libraries in the Linux operating system.

The general syntax for using the “man” command is as follows:

man [options] [command/function/library]

For example, to view the manual page for the “ls” command, you can use the following command:

man ls

The “man” command will then display the manual page for the specified command, allowing you to read about its purpose, usage, available options, and any related information.

The man pages are typically divided into sections, each covering different aspects of the system, such as user commands, system calls, library functions, configuration files, and more. You can specify the section number with the “man” command to view the manual page from a specific section. For example, to view the manual page for the “printf” function in the C programming language, you can use:

man 3 printf

In this case, “3” refers to the section containing information about library functions.

The “man” command provides a valuable resource for users and system administrators to explore and learn about various commands and system functions available in Linux, helping them understand how to effectively use them.

How to use Linux man command

Search for a Manual Page: To search for a specific manual page, provide the command or topic as an argument to the “man” command. For example, to view the manual page for the “ls” command, run:

man ls

Navigating within the Manual Page:

Once the manual page is displayed, you can navigate using the following keys:

Section Number: If there are multiple manual pages with the same name, you can specify the section number to view the desired page. For example, to view the manual page for “printf” as a C library function, use:

man 3 printf

Here, “3” is the section number for library functions.

Search for Keywords:

You can search for specific keywords within the manual page by pressing the “/” key, followed by the keyword you want to search for. Press “n” to find the next occurrence of the keyword and “Shift+n” to find the previous occurrence.

Options and Formatting:

The “man” command supports various options to control the output and formatting. Some common options include:

  • “-f” or “–whatis”: Display a short description of the command or function.”-k” or “–apropos”: Search for a keyword in the manual page names and descriptions.”-s” or “–sections”: List the available manual sections on the system.”-h” or “–help”: Show the help message for the “man” command.
You can explore additional options and their functionalities in the man page of the “man” command itself by running:

man man

Exiting the Manual Page: To exit the manual page and return to the terminal, press “q”.

By following these steps, you can effectively use the “man” command to access and navigate through the manual pages in Linux, gaining detailed information about various commands, functions, and system components.