[Novalug] Man pages
novalugml at jgcomp.com
Tue Oct 18 13:47:31 EDT 2011
On Mon, Oct 17, 2011 at 05:47:47PM -0400, Peter Larsen wrote:
> On Mon, 2011-10-17 at 13:57 -0500, Beartooth wrote:
> > On Mon, 17 Oct 2011, Peter Larsen wrote:
> > > man pages are mostly for reference manuals. Not a user manual.
> > > In other words, you sorta have to know a bit about what you're
> > > looking at to get the details.
The paper copy with most of the commands was called the
"User Reference Manual". Additional commands were found
in the "Administrator Reference Manual" and "Programmer
> > > And then of course you have the internet - that goes unsaid ;)
> > > If you want to find an example of how a command can be used,
> > > you should be able to find examples of pretty much every
> > > command you come across out on the web.
> > Mark Twain said it, and it fits apropos, help, and
> > google, let alone the whole Net : "Intellectual food, like any
> > other, is better taken with a spoon than a shovel."
> ??? If you are wishing for a short-cut, I'm sorry to say I think you're
> looking in vein. Just remember, you eat the apple one bite at a time.
> That was my point about not having to read the whole man page to begin
> with. With time you'll get through it all.
I've been tempted to respond in this thread a few times. I haven't as
Peter generally posts nearly the same response I was planning so mine
would have been redundant. But let me describe my usage of man pages.
In the pre-digital days, if I needed to know the population of Elbonia
I might go to that 35 volume encyclopedia my parents bought. I would
not read the entire encyclopedia, nor even the entire article on
Elbonia, but from past experience I know that somewhere in that
article on Elbonia, its population is mentioned. So I scan the pages
looking for the word population and sure enough find it.
Similarly, if I'm looking for a route between Reston and Springfield,
I don't look at the entire Virginia map, I focus on the highways
between the two locations.
I might think that ls(1) can print a file's inode number, or the
timestamp to hours and minutes but not remember the options.
Reading all 6 manpages of ls' entry is silly, again just scan.
Today I typically do that with the browser's search function.
Knowing the organization of manpages is helpful. Where does
ssh(1) keep its config files? Go directly to the FILES section
of its manpage. Again, don't try to read all 14 pages.
You should not try to learn to use a complex command by reading
it manpage. Some are complex enough that text books are written
about them (eg. editors like vi and emacs). And sometimes even
aspects of the commands have text books, ex regular expressions.
No way a couple of manpages can tell you "how" to use them.
Jon H. LaBadie novalugml at jgcomp.com
11226 South Shore Rd (703) 787-0688 (H)
Reston, VA 20190 (609) 477-8330 (C)
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