3 Good Alternatives To Man Pages Every Linux User Should Know

Alternatives To Man Pages

A man page, acronym of manual page, is a software documentation found in all Unix-like operating systems. Some man pages are short; some are comprehensive. A man page consists of several sections 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. 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 3 good alternatives to man pages for Unix-like operating systems.

Good Alternatives To Man Pages Every Linux User Should Know

There could be be many, but these 3 alternatives are just enough to learn any Unix command’s usage quickly. These tools skips the comprehensive description and text parts, and only focuses on the examples.

Bropages

The slogan of this utility is just get to the point. It is true! The bropages are just like man pages, but examples only. As its slogan says, It skips all text part and only 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

Usage

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. You can see how to send upvote or downvote to a particular example below the respective 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?
sk@senthilkumar.com
Great! We're sending an email to sk@senthilkumar.com
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.

Don’t like bro pages? No problem. There are two more alternatives down here.

Cheat

Cheat is another useful alternative to man pages to learn Unix commands. It allows you to create and view interactive cheatsheets on the command-line.

The recommended way to Cheat is using pip. Pip can be installed using any one of below methods depending upon the distribution you use.

On Arch Linux and its derivatives, run the following command to install pip:

sudo pacman -S python-pip

On Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint:

sudo apt-get install python-pip

On RHEL, Fedora, CentOS:

sudo yum install python-pip

Or,

sudo dnf install python-pip

On SUSE/openSUSE:

sudo zypper install python-pip

Once pip installed, install Cheat using pip with command:

sudo pip install cheat

Usage

Cheat usage is trivial. To view the cheatsheet of any command, say find, run:

cheat find

You will 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 -l

To view help section, run:

cheat -h

For more details, see project’s GitHub repository:

Not happy with Cheat utility either? Well, there is an another useful utility.

TLDR Pages

TLDR is a collection of simplified and community-driven man pages. Unlike man pages, TLDR pages only focuses 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.

sudo 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.

Usage

To display the documentation of any command, say 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

Recommended read: Dwww – View Complete Debian Documentation Offline Via Web Browser


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 display the help section, run:

tldr -h

For more details, refer TLDR github page.

You know now three viable alternatives to man pages. These three utilities just displays command examples with little description. If you want to read more about all options of an Unix command, stick with man pages as it provides in-depth details. Like I said, there could many other alternatives. But these are just enough, at least for me, to learn the usage of an Unix command easily and quickly.

More good stuffs to come. Stay tuned!

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  • gary

    > 3 Good Alternatives To Man Pages…

    Any alternative to Man Pages is a good alternative. Thanks for this writeup. I knew about tldr but not the other two.