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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Reading Documentation

Although you learn the basics of using Fedora 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 Fedora’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.

Finding and Reading Software Package Documentation

Documentation for various software packages is included in the /usr/share/doc directory; that directory is stored in another directory that’s labeled with the associated package’s name. You can find other Linux documentation, known as HOWTOs and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), online by browsing to http://www.tldp.org/. HOWTO documents contain specific information related to a particular subject, such as printing, setting up a network, programming a serial port, or using a CD-ROM drive with Linux. These documents can be read by using your web browser. Of course, one of the best online tools you can use is a good search engine, such as Google.

You can read document formats such as text with less or another pager or text reader. For example, to read a copy of the GNU General Public License (GPL), a file named GPL_V2 under the /usr/share/apps/LICENSES directory, use less like this:

$ less /usr/share/apps/LICENSES/GPL_V2

After you press Enter, you can scroll back and forth through the file. Press q to quit reading. If a document is in compressed form (ending in .gz), use the zless pager, which decompresses a document first:

$ zless /usr/share/man/es/man1/README.gz

Most users read document formats such as HTML using a web browser in a graphical desktop. Fedora includes at least two versatile text-based web browsers, however, accessed with the lynx and links commands. To browse an HTML file on your system without using X11, use either command, along with the path to the file. For example, to read an HTML version of the GNU GPL with links, use the command like this:

$ links /usr/share/doc/HTML/en/common/gpl-license.html

After you press Enter, use your Up and Down cursor keys to scroll back and forth through the file. Press q, Enter to quit reading. If you have configured a mouse, click the left button near the top of the screen, and links displays its menus.

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