A man page, acronym of manual page, is a software documentation usually found in all Unix-like operating systems. Some man pages are short and some pages are comprehensive. A man page is divided into several parts, organized with headings for each section, such as NAME, SYNOPSIS, CONFIGURATION, DESCRIPTION, OPTIONS, EXIT STATUS, RETURN VALUE, ERRORS, ENVIRONMENT, FILES, VERSIONS, CONFORMING TO, NOTES, BUGS, EXAMPLE, AUTHORS, and SEE ALSO.
Sometimes, I find it really time-consuming when I wanted to learn a practical example of a given Unix command using man pages. So, I started to look for some good alternatives to man pages which are focused on mostly examples, skipping all other comprehensive text parts. Thankfully, there are some really good alternatives out there. In this tutorial, we will be discussing some alternatives to man pages for Unix-like operating systems.
Good Alternatives To Man Pages To Learn Concise Linux Command Examples
I haven’t included “info pages” in this guide, because I needed a simple alternatives to man pages which will teach me to learn the commands and its parameters quickly with examples and without having to go through long man pages. There could be be many, but these alternatives are just enough to learn any Unix command’s usage easily. These tools skips the comprehensive description and text parts, and only focuses on the examples, which I exactly was looking for.
The slogan of the Borpages utility is just get to the point. It is true! The bropages are just like man pages, but it will display examples only. As its slogan says, It skips all text part and gives you the concise examples for command line programs.
The bropages can be easily installed using gem. So, you need Ruby 1.8.7+ installed on your machine for this to work. To install Ruby on Rails in CentOS and Ubuntu, refer the following guide:
After installing gem, all you have to do to install bro pages is:
$ gem install bropages
The usage is incredibly easy! To get the examples of how to use any Unix command, say find, just type:
$ bro find
It’s that simple. You will see handful of examples of find command curated by the community.
Press ENTER to view all examples. To quit, just type q.
The good thing thing is you can upvote or downvote the examples. The commands to send upvote/downvote are given below each example command.
As you see in the above screenshot, we can upvote to first command by entering the following command:
$ bro thanks
You will be asked to enter your Email Id. Enter a valid Email to receive the verification code. And, copy/paste the verification code in the prompt and hit ENTER to submit your upvote. The highest upvoted examples will be shown at the top.
Bropages.org requires an email address verification to do this What's your email address? [email protected] Great! We're sending an email to [email protected] Please enter the verification code: apHelH13ocC7OxTyB7Mo9p Great! You're verified! FYI, your email and code are stored locally in ~/.bro You just gave thanks to an entry for find! You rock!
To vpvote the second command, type:
$ bro thanks 2
Similarly, to downvote the first command, run:
$ bro ...no
To downvote second command:
$ bro ...no 2
You can also submit your own example to find command using:
$ bro add find
Cool, isn’t it? Just install bro pages and make your command line life easier!
For more details, check the project home page.
Cheat is another useful alternative to man pages to learn Unix commands. It allows you to create and view interactive Linux/Unix commands cheatsheets on the command-line.
The recommended way to install Cheat is using Pip package manager. If you haven’t install Pip in your Linux distribution, refer the following link:
Once pip installed, install Cheat using pip with command:
$ sudo pip install cheat
Cheat utility is also available snap package. If you Linux system has Snapd installed, run the following command to install cheat:
$ sudo snap install cheat
Cheat usage is trivial. To view the cheatsheet of any command, say find, run:
$ cheat find
You will be presented with the list of available examples of find command:
See? Cheat displays many find command examples in a human-readable format. You don’t need to use man pages or Google to know how to use find command.
To view the list of all available cheatsheets: , run:
$ cheat list
To view help section, run:
$ cheat -h
For more details, see project’s GitHub repository:
3. TLDR Pages
TLDR is a collection of simplified and community-driven man pages. Unlike man pages, TLDR pages focuses only on practical examples.
TLDR can be installed using npm. So, you need NodeJS installed on your machine for this to work.
To install NodeJS in Linux, refer the following guide.
After installing npm, run the following command to install tldr.
$ npm install -g tldr
TLDR clients are also available for Android. Install any one of below apps from Google Play Sore and access the TLDR pages from your Android devices.
There are many TLDR clients available. You can view them all here.
To display the documentation of any command, fro example find, run:
$ tldr find
You will see the list of available examples of find command.
As you see in the above screenshot, TLDR only displays the concise examples. No lengthy description, no author details, no explanation of switches and arguments. It only displays the description of find command and usage examples. Had you see man pages of find command, you will be bombarded with lot of comprehensive details.
To view the list of all commands in the cache, run:
$ tldr --list-all
Want to add more examples to a particular command or want to submit examples to a command which isn’t already available in TLDR pages, no problem. You can contribute and submit them as well. Refer the TLDR contributing guidelines for more details.
To update the local cache, run:
$ tldr -u
$ tldr --update
To display the help section, run:
$ tldr -h
For more details, refer TLDR github page.
Tldr++ is yet another client to access the TLDR pages. Unlike the other Tldr clients, it is fully interactive. Meaning – you can pick a command, read all examples , and immediately run any command without having to retype or copy/paste each command in the Terminal. Still don’t get it? No problem. Refer the following link to learn more about Tldr++ client.
5. tldr.jsx web client
The tldr.jsx is a a Reactive web client for tldr-pages. If you don’t want to install anything on your system, you can try this client online from any Internet-enabled devices like desktop, laptop, tablet and smart phone. All you have to do is just a Web-browser.
Open a web browser and navigate to https://tldr.ostera.io/ page. Type the Linux command command in the search box and hit ENTER key to get the command examples in the web browser.
tldr.jsx is mobile-friendly page, so you can access it from anywhere and take it anywhere!
6. Navi interactive commandline cheatsheet tool
Navi is an interactive commandline cheatsheet tool written in Rust. Just like Bro pages, Cheat, Tldr tools, Navi also provides a list of examples for a given command, skipping all other comprehensive text parts. For more details, check the following link.
I came across this utility recently and I thought that it would be a worth addition to this list. Say hello to Manly, a compliment to man pages.
Manly is written in Python, so you can install it using Pip package manager. If you haven’t installed Pip yet, refer the link given in the 2 section (Cheat utility).
Once Pip installed, run the following command to install Manly:
$ pip install --user manly
Manly is slightly different from the above three utilities. It will not display any examples and also you need to mention the flags or options along with the commands. Say for example, the following example won’t work:
$ manly dpkg
But, if you mention any flag/option of a command, you will get a small description of the given command and its options.
$ manly dpkg -i -R
For more details, refer the help section:
$ manly --help
And also take a look at the project’s GitHub page.
You know now there are seven viable alternatives to man pages. These alternatives displays the Linux command examples along with a brief description. If you want to read more about all options of an Unix/Linux command, better stick with man pages and/or info pages as they provides in-depth details. Like I already said, there could be many other alternatives. But these are just enough, at least for me, to learn the usage of an Unix command easily and quickly.
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