Tuesday, 1 February 2011


Using the Command Line Interface (CLI) on Ubuntu can be a pretty effective way of getting stuff done, but it does require some commitment to master the multitude of commands and their options. One way of finding out how commands work is to use the man pages that come pre-installed as part of the Ubuntu OS (indeed, man pages are installed in almost all Unix based systems). For instance, if you wanted information on the chmod command, you simply open a terminal and type:

man chmod

The output appears in the terminal window.

You can use the Page Dn, Page Up, or arrow keys to move through the document (to exit the man page, hit the "q" key).

However, whilst it's a very useful feature, I also find reading the man pages in the terminal window a little clumsy so I was surprised and delighted, therefore, to find that the complete set of man pages for every release of Ubuntu are available online. The html format is much easier to read and each web page (or man page) has links that are much easier to follow than scrolling through a document in the terminal. There's also a search bar to speed up access to each man page rather than using the file hierarchy.

One thing that is missing is an apropos type search, but I suppose you can't have everything!

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