[Novalug] Thanks and November
plarsen at famlarsen.homelinux.com
Fri Oct 14 21:25:21 EDT 2011
On Fri, 2011-10-14 at 19:56 -0500, Beartooth wrote:
> On Fri, 14 Oct 2011, Peter Larsen wrote:
> > Try to type "man" on a file in /etc/ and see what happens.
> > Example: man 5 passwd gives you a nice description of the
> > /etc/passwd file. Yes, don't type the full path. If you wonder
> > what 5 is for, it means configuration file (since there is a
> > command called passwd it gives you the right page).
> There's a sore point right there.
> I've been breaking teeth for a dozen years against man
> pages written for people who've forgotten more than I could live
> to learn if I gave up eating and sleeping -- but I haven't the
> foggiest notion of what that *goddam* numeral is doing in there,
> nor how to find it, let alone use it.
Well, not all man pages are created equal. No argument there. And the
man page is just one side of the equation - it's not the end all
documentation. But it is a very good reference store. And the answer to
how to use man lies in "man man" :)
If you want to learn the theory and architectural design behind let's
say usernames and password, man pages aren't made to teach you that.
There are better sources for taking you through the mechnisms of
authentication and the different options you have. However, once you
decide on a specific method, I find man quite useful to give me the
facts, and nothing but the facts, about commands, configuration files
and how things needs to be put together to work.
Another location for documentation on Linux is /usr/share/doc/
You'll often find tutorials, sample configuration files and a lot more
out there. It's a great place to browse to learn a few things.
> Of all the never to be sufficiently accursed features of
> this otherwise excellent field, "man X <whatever>" for any X
> among the positive integers is the worst and most infuriating,
> hands down.
It's really not that hard. From "man man" I quote:
The table below shows the section numbers of the manual followed
by the types of pages they contain.
1 Executable programs or shell commands
2 System calls (functions provided by the kernel)
3 Library calls (functions within program libraries)
4 Special files (usually found in /dev)
5 File formats and conventions eg /etc/passwd
7 Miscellaneous (including macro packages and conven‐
tions), e.g. man(7), groff(7)
8 System administration commands (usually only for root)
9 Kernel routines [Non standard]
There you have all the "little integers" that man understands and what
> Man pages are just like any other field's manuals --
> written for the cognoscenti. Your beginner wants an explanation,
> not an avalanche.
Depends on what you expect. You don't have to read the whole set of
manuals to make use of it. If you cannot remember how to get "ls" to
show you hidden files, search in the man page and you shall find and
learn. You can safely ignore the rest of the writeup - or at least save
it for another day.
Wise words of the day:
Q: What's the big deal about rm, I have been deleting stuff for years? And
never lost anything.. oops!
-- From the Frequently Unasked Questions
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