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Just starting out and have a question? If it is not in the man pages or the how-to's this is the place!

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Old 03-01-2006, 10:20 AM   #16
LinuxLala
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I won't comment on the man pages being difficult. Just that on more than one occasion I have found them useful and on more than one occasion have earned my bread and butter with it

Coming to the obvious: there is always a lot of information available on the web. I don't entirely rely on the man pages to learn about an application/program... It is suggested that you use the man pages to get acwauinted with the abilities and functionalities of the program and then make use of the community to gather further reading material.

Cheers!

P.S. I so frequently talk about the community, if it were a site or had specific dimensions I would be accused of advertising in the boards
 
Old 03-01-2006, 03:23 PM   #17
Widgeteye
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My best advice on man pages:

Don't use them till you know how the program works!
 
Old 03-01-2006, 03:45 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Widgeteye
My best advice on man pages:

Don't use them till you know how the program works!
I've used them with success. Some/many are difficult to read; often the answer that I looked everywhere -- avoiding man pages -- was in the man page.

Here are useful keys:
/pattern --Search foreword in the file
?pattern -- Search backwards in the file
n -- Go to next occurence of pattern
N -- Go to occurence of pattern in opposite direction
m -- The letter m followed by another letter to mark position in the file
' -- The tick followed by the letter you used to mark the file to go back to the mark

Happy Computing
jer
 
Old 03-01-2006, 03:56 PM   #19
jerril
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Continued:

Hi all;

I just thought you might like to know which man pages can be very useful:
  • less
  • man
  • bash
  • builtins

jer
 
Old 03-01-2006, 03:57 PM   #20
pixellany
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It all depends on how you learn. Personally, I avoid reading instructions until I have poked a few buttons--I find that I get more out of reading by first getting some exposure in practice.
What works for me:
type a command and see what happens
look up the man page and pick 1 or 2 arguments to play with
Wait until I need something more sophisticated--then look up just that feature
When not under pressure, scan thru a text or tutorial for things to try later--ie put the subconscious mind to work.
For something like sed (which does nothing without the associated gobbleydegock), bite the bullet and read a tutorial start to finish. Then try something, then read the tutorial AGAIN, try AGAIN, etc.
YMMV
 
Old 03-01-2006, 03:58 PM   #21
pixellany
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jerril
Hi all;

I just thought you might like to know which man pages can be very useful:
  • less
  • man
  • bash
  • builtins

jer
"info coreutils" can be REALLY HANDY--esp. in the beginning.
 
Old 03-02-2006, 01:14 AM   #22
benjeeqds
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Thanks everybody for your replies, some great feedback to an issue.

I actaully think MAN pages would be significantly more useful if they where structured like:

Aim - The purpose of XYZ application is to do blah.
Compatibility - Debian, Fedora 4, Red Hat 9
Examples:

Making a widget:
xyzprogram -q -f
-q means quite, and prevents the program for asking you questions.
-f means force, and forces the changes to occur even if the file is in use.


You get the drift, just really simple and straight forward with an example or two.
 
Old 03-02-2006, 01:49 AM   #23
chrism01
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The VMS help system was the best I've ever used by far. Still explained things in detail, but clearer than man style and LOTS of examples.
Also, tree-structured front end, so you didn't have to guess in the dark for a new cmd, you could just scroll through the titles.
I think my ideal system would be that kind of help system on a Unix OS.
 
Old 03-02-2006, 04:05 AM   #24
nx5000
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benjeeqds
Aim - The purpose of XYZ application is to do blah.
Compatibility - Debian, Fedora 4, Red Hat 9
Examples:
its exactly how it is done!?
Aim, options, conformity, (example)
 
Old 03-02-2006, 08:30 AM   #25
jbuckley2004
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Chrism, I think you're exactly right. Us old-timers who used VMS actually got help when we typed "help" ("Man? I have to type 'man' to get help??? WTF???"). We were spoiled. Man pages have been a sore point with me for 15 years.

<rant>Man pages were my first exposure to the UNIX/Linux side of the universe, and the message sent and received was "this is an insider's club. You will not be admitted until you answer these questions three! What is the ground speed of a fully laden thrush?..."
Several have stated that man pages are short, so terseness makes them difficult for the beginner. ??? That's just not right. Most are waaayyyy too long, spanning several screens in a format that difficult to impossible for a beginner to print out. The info most need is *always* buried. Not sometimes, but *always*, and it's buried in the detail of the switches. The question never answered for beginners is "What command am I looking for?".</rant>

Ok, that's an itch. I don't quite understand why attempts to scratch it have been so tentitive. IBM had better help available for the user, even if most of the time the help given was "Probable user error. Correct and resubmit."
 
Old 03-02-2006, 09:41 AM   #26
pixellany
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One more time, the man pages are intended only as a reference for users that already know something about the command.
I would be opposed to diddling with the format--it is a long-standing legacy from Unix and everyone is used to it.
For learning--select the mix of reading tutorials and "cut and try" that works for you.

IMHO, fixing man pages is not the issue for the OP--nor for many others here. The issue is where to find learning materials to fit the individual's style.
 
Old 03-02-2006, 01:42 PM   #27
jbuckley2004
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Well, yes pixellany. I agree with you. Man pages are great - useful even - when you're a bit familiar with the command and are searching for a detail. But when benjeegds asks "Why are the man pages so complex?", he's asking for something that man pages are not providing (and weren't intended to provide) although it's not obvious that they couldn't. The mechanism is there to provide a very nice tool for beginners who reflexively type >HELP at the prompt, and man uses it. The ability to write simple statements that help beginners (and intermediates, btw) must be there, 'cause we've seen it since VMS (and since TSO, actually) in the late '70s. And frankly, it's not foreign to DOS and windows either. My rant ;> is about the impression that man pages (and the mechanism) give that UNIX/Linux is an insiders club, into which you must be initiated. Tutorial and HowTos, nice as they are, are overkill for the linux nubie who has seen stuff before in a different OS.
I guess that the real answer to the original question is that the solutions are indeed out there, and the learning process is about knowing where to find them.
 
Old 03-02-2006, 05:39 PM   #28
syg00
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Mmmm - comparing single vendor environments with the OSS model is a little disingenuous. Single point of control helps a lot.
Even IBM have trouble keeping the TSO SYSHELP correct - and they own both the operating environment and the product.

It would be nice to have an equivalent to the old (MS) DOS "help" - a one liner for each command so you knew what to ask about. Dream on ...
 
Old 03-02-2006, 06:08 PM   #29
pixellany
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbuckley2004
Chrism, I think you're exactly right. Us old-timers who used VMS actually got help when we typed "help" ("Man? I have to type 'man' to get help??? WTF???"). We were spoiled. Man pages have been a sore point with me for 15 years.
Reminiscing about the "good old days" of VMS is just about akin to having fond memories of Windows 3.1.
My personal absurdity was the epiphany that I had that I would escape the flakiness of the old Powermac with---shudder---Windows 95.

Why be sore about man?? Once you know what it does, it's a **GOOD THING** (That noise you hear is Martha groaning....... )
 
Old 03-03-2006, 12:05 AM   #30
chrism01
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Actually, my pt about VMS help was that it DOES provide at least as much info/syntax definitions/options as man on Unix style systems, but it also has a much easier entry point/structure AND lots of examples in the manner of a '1 example is worth 20 lines of explanation', especially if you're trying to learn a new cmd, not just ref something you've forgotten.
As it happens, VMS & Unix are about the same age ... it's not a 'good old days' thing. I just happen to think it (help) is a better soln to the prob. Note that I do think Unix does some stuff better (eg pipes).
 
  


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