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Unix manual pages

From: Unix for Mac OS X Users

Video: Unix manual pages

This movie may very well be the most valuable movie in this entire training title, even though it's very simple. The Unix manual pages are an invaluable resource for helping you figure out what you want to when you're working in Unix. In fact, I learned 80% of the Unix I know from the manual pages. These are going to be your best friend during your journey. The manual pages, often simply refer to as just the man pages, is called that because the command to get to them is just man, and the man followed by whatever we want to look up in the manual. man echo will give us the manual pages for the echo command.

Unix manual pages

This movie may very well be the most valuable movie in this entire training title, even though it's very simple. The Unix manual pages are an invaluable resource for helping you figure out what you want to when you're working in Unix. In fact, I learned 80% of the Unix I know from the manual pages. These are going to be your best friend during your journey. The manual pages, often simply refer to as just the man pages, is called that because the command to get to them is just man, and the man followed by whatever we want to look up in the manual. man echo will give us the manual pages for the echo command.

Go ahead and hit that, you will see at the top BSD General Commands Manual. The name echo, what does it do? Write arguments to the standard output. Then we get a synopsis, then we get the description. You can see the option -n there, do not print the trailing new line character, and then at the bottom we get a colon. Now let's just know that there's more. We can see more. To see the next page, you can simply hit the Spacebar or you can use F and B to go forwards and back. F forward, B backwards. Q will exit for quit. Those are very common options in Unix.

So let's go ahead and hit the Spacebar. We get down to the end. It says END. Now we have to hit Q and now the manual pages are gone. We're right back where we were. They don't stay there and crowd up our view. They just disappear. If we need them again, we can call them again. So that's it. That's how we find out how all these commands work and what all the options available to them are. It's extremely helpful. That way you don't have to refer to back to my videos every time you have a question about something. You just ask Unix, "Hey Unix! I need to refresher on what the options are I can pass into this." You will use it all the time. man actually has its own manual page too. man man and there you are, you can see the different options that are available for the manual.

There is also an abbreviated version of that, man -h or man -help, and those will just give you a quick overview of what the options are that you can pass into to manual. The most interesting of these options is the k option and that says the k option is the same as apropos. What is apropos? Well, man apropos. Look it up, search the whatis database for strings. It searches a set database files containing short descriptions of system commands for keywords and displays the result on the standard output.

Let's try it. man -k and then let's put in banner. That was the command that we used earlier. "Oh look," it says, "oh banner, I found that." Print large banner on printer. Now apropos works the same way, apropos. We just don't pass in the -k. apropos already looks for the keywords, things that match banner. Now just to show you the difference there, if we take away the first if you notice that just make the apropos ban, it's going to look for the keyword ban, and it found three this time. Not just banner, but it had a couple of others. bandwidth.

That's where it found the word ban in this one and then down here abandon, it found ban there, so it pulled up three different possibilities and said "Maybe you mean one of these." So it could help us find the right command and find out what it does. Now when we looked at the manual pages for apropos, it said that it was looking in the whatis database. We also have the ability to say whatis banner, and it will tell us that exact same description. The one thing about whatis is it doesn't do keyword searching. Whatis ban comes up and says there is nothing there. So apropos or man with the -k for the keyword, look for the this keyword.

Those are the ways to find out things if you aren't sure what the name of something is, you can look and say, "Hmm! Is there anything related to video, is there anything related to print," and you can find everything that's related to print. Now that might be a long list with thousands of entries, but it still might help you to find what you were looking for. But the most important tool is going to be man, so that you can find out what things do. man ls will then come up and tell us that ls lists our directory contents and give us all the options that we can pass in. You can see there's a very long list of options here, so there's no way you could remember what all these are.

You might remember a few of the key ones, but you would want to refer to the manual pages to see the rest. So it is indispensable tool. Definitely if in doubt, try the manual pages first. man followed by whatever the command is.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Unix for Mac OS X Users
Unix for Mac OS X Users

82 video lessons · 25558 viewers

Kevin Skoglund
Author

 
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  1. 3m 57s
    1. Introduction
      1m 14s
    2. Using the exercise files
      2m 43s
  2. 32m 2s
    1. What is Unix?
      7m 27s
    2. The terminal application
      4m 23s
    3. Logging in and using the command prompt
      5m 19s
    4. Command structure
      5m 22s
    5. Kernel and shells
      5m 25s
    6. Unix manual pages
      4m 6s
  3. 15m 58s
    1. The working directory
      2m 49s
    2. Listing files and directories
      3m 59s
    3. Moving around the filesystem
      4m 58s
    4. Filesystem organization
      4m 12s
  4. 1h 4m
    1. Naming files
      5m 41s
    2. Creating files
      2m 19s
    3. Unix text editors
      6m 39s
    4. Reading files
      5m 35s
    5. Reading portions of files
      3m 27s
    6. Creating directories
      2m 40s
    7. Moving and renaming files and directories
      8m 32s
    8. Copying files and directories
      3m 7s
    9. Deleting files and directories
      3m 38s
    10. Finder aliases in Unix
      4m 10s
    11. Hard links
      5m 30s
    12. Symbolic links
      6m 36s
    13. Searching for files and directories
      6m 32s
  5. 34m 58s
    1. Who am I?
      4m 3s
    2. Unix groups
      1m 52s
    3. File and directory ownership
      6m 41s
    4. File and directory permissions
      4m 27s
    5. Setting permissions using alpha notation
      6m 49s
    6. Setting permissions using octal notation
      3m 49s
    7. The root user
      1m 57s
    8. sudo and sudoers
      5m 20s
  6. 52m 34s
    1. Command basics
      4m 4s
    2. The PATH variable
      4m 13s
    3. System information commands
      3m 40s
    4. Disk information commands
      6m 8s
    5. Viewing processes
      5m 0s
    6. Monitoring processes
      3m 36s
    7. Stopping processes
      3m 19s
    8. Text file helpers
      6m 50s
    9. Utility programs
      7m 28s
    10. Using the command history
      8m 16s
  7. 20m 39s
    1. Standard input and standard output
      1m 24s
    2. Directing output to a file
      4m 13s
    3. Appending to a file
      2m 44s
    4. Directing input from a file
      5m 28s
    5. Piping output to input
      4m 40s
    6. Suppressing output
      2m 10s
  8. 41m 28s
    1. Profile, login, and resource files
      9m 11s
    2. Setting command aliases
      6m 59s
    3. Setting and exporting environment variables
      4m 54s
    4. Setting the PATH variable
      6m 10s
    5. Configuring history with variables
      6m 17s
    6. Customizing the command prompt
      6m 5s
    7. Logout file
      1m 52s
  9. 1h 25m
    1. grep: Searching for matching expressions
      5m 21s
    2. grep: Multiple files, other input
      4m 28s
    3. grep: Coloring matched text
      2m 57s
    4. Introduction to regular expressions
      3m 22s
    5. Regular expressions: Basic syntax
      3m 19s
    6. Using regular expressions with grep
      5m 20s
    7. tr: Translating characters
      8m 17s
    8. tr: Deleting and squeezing characters
      5m 30s
    9. sed: Stream editor
      7m 45s
    10. sed: Regular expressions and back-references
      7m 8s
    11. cut: Cutting select text portions
      7m 42s
    12. diff: Comparing files
      4m 35s
    13. diff: Alternative formats
      4m 30s
    14. xargs: Passing argument lists to commands
      7m 25s
    15. xargs: Usage examples
      7m 59s
  10. 42m 25s
    1. Finder integration
      4m 45s
    2. Clipboard integration
      5m 5s
    3. Screen capture
      3m 42s
    4. Shut down, reboot, and sleep
      3m 34s
    5. Text to speech
      2m 36s
    6. Spotlight integration: Searching metadata
      3m 41s
    7. Spotlight integration: Metadata attributes
      4m 24s
    8. Using AppleScript
      5m 23s
    9. System configurations: Viewing and setting
      5m 51s
    10. System configurations: Examples
      3m 24s
  11. 1m 26s
    1. Conclusion
      1m 26s

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