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Is there a way to know the meaning of the output of a command?

Example given: If I type ls -l, I get this ouput:

[root@localhost junk]# ls -l
total 8
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1862 2012-08-25 16:20 a
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root    0 2012-08-25 15:41 a.c
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1907 2012-08-25 16:18 b

Now I want to know here what all these fields (e.g. -rw-r--r--, 1862) stand for.

Is there a way to do that using man?

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This question is overly broad. Are you asking about GNU ls or about "all" commands? – depquid Jul 8 '14 at 18:15
Commands/help in general. I put ls as an example. – Lavya Jul 8 '14 at 18:18
The most valid answer here though does deal with ls (and perhaps a handful of other things) specifically. Usually this is exactly the kind of information that should be in the man page. In this case it's not because GNU's version of ls is non-standard and GNU seems to have had a historical preference for documenting things with info instead. – goldilocks Jul 8 '14 at 18:21

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

You can use info command to know more details about any command in coreutils.

Here is some portion in info ls, explain the -l option:

     In addition to the name of each file, print the file type, file
     mode bits, number of hard links, owner name, group name, size, and
     timestamp (*note Formatting file timestamps::), normally the
     modification time.  Print question marks for information that
     cannot be determined.
share|improve this answer
+1 I was going to reference this but you beat me to it. There is not an info node for "any command", however (there is for everything in the coreutils package). If there is one, it's usually referred to at the end of the man page. GNU ls has a particularly lame piece of stub as a man page, unfortunately. – goldilocks Jul 8 '14 at 18:18
@goldilocks: Oh, of course, my mistake. updated my answer. – cuonglm Jul 8 '14 at 18:22
info ls on my system (GNU/Linux prints: ` 9.1 Defining the Comparison Function ==================================== . I scrolled down the whole section but there is no ls. I have used info before so this is weird, but thanks for your answer. It (info` certainly is more informative than man. – Lavya Jul 9 '14 at 18:55

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