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CHAPTER 3 Getting Started

3.5 Getting Help

The Unix manual, usually called man pages, is available on-line to explain the usage of the Unix system and commands. To use a man page, type the command "man" at the system prompt followed by the command for which you need information.


man [options] command_name

Common Options

-k keyword list command synopsis line for all keyword matches

-M path path to man pages

-a show all matching man pages (SVR4)


You can use man to provide a one line synopsis of any commands that contain the keyword that you want to search on with the "-k" option, e.g. to search on the keyword password, type:

% man -k password

passwd (5) - password file

passwd (1) - change password information

The number in parentheses indicates the section of the man pages where these references were found. You can then access the man page (by default it will give you the lower numbered entry, but you can use a command line option to specify a different one) with:

% man passwd



passwd - change password information


passwd [ -e login_shell ] [ username ]


passwd changes (or sets) a user's password.

passwd prompts twice for the new password, without displaying

it. This is to allow for the possibility of typing mistakes.

Only the user and the super-user can change the user's password.


-e Change the user's login shell.

Here we've paraphrased and truncated the output for space and copyright concerns.

Introduction to Unix - 14 AUG 1996
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