Home > Articles > Operating Systems, Server > Linux/UNIX/Open Source

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Getting Help

SUSE Linux provides literally thousands of possible commands that can be used to perform various tasks on a server. Having firsthand knowledge of each utility and all parameters that utility may take is a very challenging task! Thankfully, through the use of utility manuals and application documentation, help is never too far away.

Console-Based Help

Working on the command line is the most common method of interacting with SLES. Providing easy access to application and utility usage information from this environment is essential to effectively working on the command line. Thankfully, a help system has been designed around just this need. This system consists of three distinct types of documentation: manual or man pages; info pages; and system and third-party documentation.

man Pages

man pages on Linux are syntax-level documentation of utilities and applications, stored in an easily retrievable, command-line-friendly format. man pages are physically stored in the /usr/share/man directory and divided into the nine sections shown in Table 3.17.

Table 3.17 man Page Sections

man Section

Section Purpose


Executable programs and commands all users can access


System calls


Functions and library routines


Special device files (/dev/*)


Configuration file formats and conventions




Macro commands and packages


System administration programs and commands used by the root user


Kernel routines

All programs utilizing the man system should store their man pages within the correct section. In order to view man pages for a specific command, the following basic syntax must be used:

man [section] command

Upon entering the man command, you are presented with syntax-level documentation for the specified command or utility. The pages presented typically contain information divided into the following sections:

  • Name—This is a one-line summary of the application in question. This field is displayed individually when using the whatis command.

  • Synopsis—This section contains a summary of the command line for the application in question. Optional parameters are enclosed in square brackets [], and required parameters are listed normally.

  • Description—This section documents the possible parameters the application in question can receive. Some man pages also include specific usage examples in this section.

  • Author—The author’s name and contact information are typically noted in this section.

  • Reporting Bugs—Information on where to report bugs for the specific utility is normally noted in this section.

  • Copyright—The utility’s copyright information is normally displayed in this section.

  • See Also—This section identifies additional locations for information on the utility in question. Quite often this section will identify related utilities, man pages, and info pages for the specific utility. Checking all specified resources is recommended for advanced usage techniques including troubleshooting of the utility.

Most man pages are only a few pages in length, but some man pages can be quite detailed with many, many pages of information. (See man bash for one such example!) Navigation through larger man pages can be greatly simplified with details on a few valid keystrokes. Table 3.18 lists a small number of important navigation commands within man.

Table 3.18 Internal man Keystrokes




Scroll down one page at a time.


Scroll up one page at a time.


Scroll down a single line at a time.


Scroll down one full window at a time.


Invokes the search dialog for the specified pattern. When you press Enter, the next instance of the desired term will be located. Navigating to the next hit is done by pressing "n". Moving to the previous instance of the search term is done using "N".


Invokes the search-backward dialog for the specified pattern. When you press Enter, the first instance (in the backward direction) of the desired term will be located. You can navigate to the previous hit by pressing "n". You can move to the next instance of the search term using "N".


Quit the man page system.

It is also common to want to search through man pages for a specific type of utility. Although searching through the contents of all man pages is possible, it is more likely that you just need to locate a command that performs a specific action. Searching just the "Name" section of all man pages is the best way to accomplish this. The apropos or man -k commands can be used for this purpose. For example, to find all commands related to cron, you would use the following command:

The output of this man command would be a listing of all commands containing the word "cron" anywhere in the Name field. After the utility has been identified, the man page for the desired command can then be directly accessed for more information.

info Pages

In addition to the man system, information regarding programs and commands can also be found using the info system. Due to the syntax-documentation-only focus of man pages, background information, tutorials, and detailed information on using the program in question are sometimes lacking in man pages. The info system was created to directly resolve that issue.

info pages are detailed usage instructions and program or command guides. This documentation is accessed via an emacs-type interface that supports hypertext links, and advanced navigation features not found in the man system. The following command is an example of using the info system to locate documentation on the Concurrent Versions System (CVS):

Within the info system, multiple individual pages of information make up the entire set of info pages for each specific application. These pages of information are referred to as nodes. You can page through nodes one at a time, or you can jump to specific pages through the use of hypertext links. For new users, this navigation can be challenging.

To help node navigation, info pages all display a header across the top of the page. This header includes information such as the current node, next and previous nodes, and information regarding the parent node. Although this helps to visualize your location in the info system, you still need to know basic navigation commands before you’ll feel entirely at home. Table 3.19 describes some of these important navigation keys.

Table 3.19 Internal info Keystrokes




Next node.


Previous node.


Parent node.


Scroll down one page at a time.


Scroll up one page at a time.


Return to the beginning of the current node.


Select next hypertext link.

m <link text>

Performs a direct jump to the specified subnode. Pressing Tab displays all available subnodes. When entering a subnode name, enter enough characters to ensure the subnode name is not ambiguous.


Follow current hypertext link. Hypertext links are designated by an asterisk (*) at the beginning of the link, and a double colon (::) at the end of the link.


Quit the info system.

System and Third-Party Documentation

The final common forms of documentation found on SLES are system- and application-specific documentation. This documentation can be in HTML, PDF, plain text, or many other formats. All application-specific documentation can be found in application-specific directories beneath /usr/share/doc/ packages. SLES-specific documentation, release notes, and a collection of HOWTO guides can also be found beneath specific directories in /usr/share/doc.

Graphical Help Systems

KDE and GNOME both have an integrated help system. This makes accessing help from a graphical environment a much simpler task than from the command line. The graphical help systems normally provide help for the graphical environments, but they also provide access to the existing man and info pages as well.

KDE Help

In KDE, the KDE Help Center is the interface into the SUSE help system. To access the SUSE help system, single-click on the "SUSE Help Center" icon (the image of a gecko in the middle of a life preserver) from the KDE Kicker. When you’re in the Help Center, SUSE documentation and application-specific documentation can easily be accessed.

Using KDE, info pages and man pages can also be easily viewed. To access these systems, launch Konqueror and enter a specific URL for man or info pages. The syntax for accessing man pages is man:<desired_pages>. For example, man:ls would be used to view the man pages for the ls command from within Konqueror. To access info pages, substitute info: for man:, for example, info:cvs to view the info pages for CVS.


As with KDE, GNOME also provides a graphical help system. This help system is based on the yelp utility.

From within GNOME, the help system is accessed from the Applications program menu. Within this menu, click on the Help icon (life preserver) to launch yelp at the home page for GNOME help. If complete GNOME documentation is installed, links to GNOME-specific help will be displayed on the yelp home page. (SLES does not provide GNOME Desktop documentation.) Links to additional documentation (man and info pages) are also displayed on the yelp home page.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020