This Linux command tutorial shows you some examples of how to run the Linux man command using popular, commonly used command options.
The Linux man Command
The Linux man command is used to view Linux “man pages” and these “man” (for “manual”) pages describe thousands of Linux commands and concepts.
Linux Tips: The Linux man pages are written in “geek-speak” and are tricky to read and understand.
Once you’ve been working with Linux for a while (and you’re no longer a new Linux user), you will want to be able to use the man command to quickly do things like: look up a Linux command option, learn a new Linux concept, find out about various directories and files in the Linux file system, and learn about the settings in Linux text (configuration) file.
Linux man Command Tutorial - Showing Examples of Using man Command Options
The Linux command examples shown below have been designed to work with all Linux distributions (versions). And if you run all these Linux commands yourself, you’ll have a mini Linux command tutorial.
So fire up Linux and give it a try - it’s a great way to get Linux training!
Linux man Command Tutorial - Using the Man Command without Any Options
To learn about a single Linux command, like the find command, use the following example and replace “find” with the name of the Linux command you need to learn more about.
]$ man find
This will display the “man” page for the find command.
A Practical Linux man Command Example - Using the Man Command with the -f Option
Let’s say it’s absolutely necessary to see all of the man pages that are available on the mkdir command, but there is more than one man page (file) for this Linux command.
Linux Tips: The man pages that are available to you are dependant on the Linux distribution (version) you are using and on the number of Linux software programs you have installed on your system. More Linux software programs = more man pages to describe the programs (and concepts).
To see all of the man pages for a Linux command or concept, use the -f option of the man command as shown in the example below.
]$ man -f mkdir
On some Linux systems, the output (on the screen) of the above command will be:
mkdir (1) - make directories
mkdir (2) - create a directory
Linux Tips: Some Linux systems will only have one man page for the mkdir command.
This output shows you that there are two man pages for the mkdir command. Notice that a (1) and (2) appears in the output for the mkdir command.
Linux Tips: If you just ran the command: man mkdir rather than using the -f option, then you would only see one man page and you would be missing all the info on the other man page(s).
Linux man Command Example - Specifying the Man Page Number with the Man Command
If there is more than one man page and you want to see a specific man page, you need to specify the man page number that you want to see. Otherwise, you will just see the first man page.
For example, to see man page 2 for the mkdir command, you run the following Linux command.
]$ man 2 mkdir
If you just ran the above command without the number 2 in it, you would see man page 1 and never see man page 2.
Beyond This “Linux Command Tutorials” Article
Man pages can be useful once you get to know how to use Linux a bit. But most people don’t usually understand man pages until they’ve been working with Linux for a while.
As part of your Linux training, you also need to learn how to use the man command to: search for a “string” of text in multiple man pages, search for text in a “section” of man pages and also search for specific text within a man page.
A common and useful Linux training method for a new Linux user is to use a simple Linux book (or Linux ebook) or get some Linux video tutorials. Linux videos are an excellent way to get easy Linux training. Just watch a bit, pause, and then try the Linux task or command yourself!