Everything you need to know about Linux man pages

When Unix was first introduced, there was little documentation on how to use it. Users struggled to figure out how to use the operating system, which led to major problems.

This led to the creation of the first ever Unix document, the “Unix Programmer’s Handbook”, which was initially published on November 3, 1971. Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson wrote the guide at the request of their manager, Douglas McIlroy. This first directory would become the first of many to be used as documentation for early Unix iterations. Eventually, these volumes migrated into online brochures becoming the first accessible computer document in a machine-readable form.

Those pamphlets inspired the so-called man pages, which is short for man pages, and is included with all Unix and Linux operating systems. This system became so important to Linux that it gave birth to the man program, which makes it easy to read human pages.

Build a man page

Almost every software installed on a Linux machine – whether server or desktop – has a man page to read through a leg Command.

All man pages are divided into sections. Not every manual page contains every section, but all developers must follow the same design for their reference pages.

A typical man page is divided into the following sections:

  • Noun
  • summary
  • ranking
  • Describe
  • and options
  • exit status
  • return value
  • Environment
  • files
  • versions
  • characteristics
  • confirmation to
  • Notes
  • Bugs
  • Example
  • See also

The sections of the man pages most useful for typical administrator tasks are Summary (command structure), Description (command description), and Options (options available for the command). These sections alone should give administrators a good idea of ​​how the command in question works.

Man pages aren’t just for command line applications. Some GUI applications, such as Thunderbird, also include their own man pages.

View man pages

Organizations may assign administrators to do something in Linux where they are unfamiliar with the commands. For example, you may have to use an extension IP It may be new to you.

Under normal circumstances, you may look for help with this command. But, if you don’t have any internet connection, open a terminal window, and issue the following command:

man ip

The above command opens the directory page of a file IP command, where you can learn the ins and outs of its general use.

The man page for the man ip command in Linux
Enter a command preceded by “man” to pull up its directory page, like the directory page for the “ip” command above.

You can scroll through this manual page either by pressing the space bar, which scrolls one page at a time, or via the cursor keys, which scrolls one line at a time.

When you are issuing the primary a leg command, like ip manyou are taken to the command or application’s general commands page, which is page 1.

However, there could be more pages to display. These pages are divided into sections:

  1. General orders
  2. system calls
  3. Library functions
  4. private files
  5. File formats and conventions
  6. Games and screensavers
  7. Mix
  8. System management commands and daemons

Not every application or command has multiple pages. To see which pages are available, issue the following command:

man -f COMMAND

Command The name of the command or application in question. For example, if you want to know which man pages are available for a IP command, this would be the following:

man -f ip

The above command reveals two pages:

ip(8) – show/handle routing, network devices, interfaces…
ip (7) – Implementation of the Linux IPv4 protocol

To display a specific section of the man page, the command would be like this:


X is the section number f Command is the command or application in question. For example, to view section 8 of IP man page, the command will be like this:

man 8 ip

Most often, help is found in the general commands section. Be sure to check to see if the man page has other sections if you don’t find what you need.

Human pages are important to Linux and the open source community because they are an easy way to access help information, whether the device is online or not.