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This chapter is from the book

Reading Documentation

Although you learn the basics of using Ubuntu in this book, you need time and practice to master and troubleshoot more complex aspects of the Linux operating system and your distribution. As with any operating system, you can expect to encounter some problems or perplexing questions as you continue to work with Linux. The first place to turn for help with these issues is the documentation included with your system; if you cannot find the information you need there, check Ubuntu’s website.

Linux, like Unix, is a self-documenting system, with man pages accessible through the man command. Linux offers many other helpful commands for accessing its documentation. You can use the apropos command—for example, with a keyword such as partition—to find commands related to partitioning, like this:

$ apropos partition
diskdumpfmt          (8) - format a dump device or a partition
fdisk                (8) - Partition table manipulator for Linux
GNU Parted [parted]  (8) - a partition manipulation program
mpartition           (1) - partition an MSDOS hard disk
MPI_Cart_sub         (3) - Partitions a communicator into subgroups which form
                           lower-dimensional cartesian subgrids
partprobe            (8) - inform the OS of partition table changes
pvcreate             (8) - initialize a disk or partition for use by LVM
sfdisk               (8) - Partition table manipulator for Linux

To find a command and its documentation, you can use the whereis command. For example, if you are looking for the fdisk command, you can do this:

$ whereis fdisk
fdisk: /sbin/fdisk /usr/share/man/man8/fdisk.8.gz

Using Man Pages

To learn more about a command or program, use the man command, followed by the name of the command. Man pages for Linux and X Window commands are within the /usr/share/man, /usr/local/share/man, and /usr/X11R6/man directories; so, for example, to read the rm command’s man page, use the man command like this:

$ man rm

After you press Enter, the less command (a Linux command known as a pager) displays the man page. The less command is a text browser you can use to scroll forward and backward (even sideways) through the document to learn more about the command. Type the letter h to get help, use the forward slash to enter a search string, or press q to quit.

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