Online help:

Unix for the most part does try to give you help when it can. After perusing the online help, you may find that it is for the most part, very well written, to the point and easy to get the information you need without having to wade through endless pages of documentation. For this reason, you may prefer to use the online manuals instead of this guide or a book after you have used them a couple of times. The basic format for retrieving online help is:

man command


man section command

where command is replaced with the command you are wanting help on. If the manual for that command can be found it will then start printing it to the screen one page at a time. Use the space bar to see the next page, press the enter (or return) key to see the next line in the manual, or press the letter 'q' to exit help and return to your prompt. The section corresponds to which manual section you are wanting to look for the command in. This argument is totally optional and isn't usually needed, unless you know where you are looking for something. The following are standard unix manual sections and what is typically found in them.

1 - All user commands.
2 - Low level system calls for C programs.
3 - High level function calls for C programs.
4 - Special hardware documentation.
5 - Formats for system files.
6 - Games.
7 - Miscellaneous.
8 - System administration commands.
l - Local command additions.

Manuals are typically formatted under section headings. Here is an example manual of the imaginary xxx command (You'll note that it is located in section 1 of the manual):

	XXX(1)		UNIX Programmer's Manual			XXX(1)

		xxx - imaginary unix command

		xxx [-xX]

		Xxx, without an argument, does nothing, since
		it's totally imaginary.  Users who specify an
		argument are advised to contact their local unix
		guru for spiritual guidance. The file /usr/adm/xxx
		logs names of users who attempt to use this
		command for CIA background checks.

		-x	Imaginary argument that does nothing.

		-X	Another imaginary argument that does nothing,
			but in a more complex way.


		guru(1), cia(8)

		This command doesn't even exist.
		CIA background checking sometimes fails.

	Revision 1.4 86/05/13                                 1

Typical manual subject headings are:

This section describes the command name, and briefly tell you what it does.
This section describes the correct way to format the command and it's arguments to execute the command. Arguments enclosed in []'s are taken to be optional. If a word is underlined (or highlighted on some terminals), it is taken to be an argument of the underlined type to be placed here (thus if 'filename' were underlined, you would put the name of some file there).
This describes in detail what the command does. Sometimes you'll see references to $HOME. For now assume $HOME, $(HOME)/, etc, refer to your home directory.
This section would list all the command options that this command supports and what they do. In unix, options to commands typically begin with a leading dash.
This lists any files that the command may use while executing, usually you do not need to know about these.
The author of the command, if any.
This lists any similar or relevant commands that correspond to this command. The SEE ALSO section is very useful when you are just starting out on unix and want to learn more. The number in ()'s following the command name is the section that the command is found in.
Sometimes a program may have undesirable side effects that are known, but not corrected or correctable. These possibly undesirable effects are listed here. Sometimes this section just lists deficiencies in the program that might be ad dressed at a later date.