Unix & Linux Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users of Linux, FreeBSD and other Un*x-like operating systems. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Wouldn't it be more consistent if one of these always worked?

share|improve this question
I understand that this might have something to do with cross-platform applications, but I am curious if there are any other reasons – Casebash Sep 10 '10 at 4:32
Reality is worse than you describe: many commands have full documentation in info format. – mouviciel Sep 10 '10 at 8:22
you should totally make this a [feature-request]... – Tobias Kienzler Sep 10 '10 at 8:52
@Tobias: tagging something feature-request is for requests to add functionality to the site, and belongs on meta. – Kevin M Sep 10 '10 at 16:14
@Tobias++ @Kevin I'm pretty sure Tobias is making a joke ;) – xenoterracide Sep 11 '10 at 21:43
up vote 14 down vote accepted

Yes it would be more consistent. This has nothing to do with cross-platform and everything to do with developers not writing (wanting to write) documentation. a man page is documentation, --help is mostly programming in nature. I've also seen the case where man pages didn't exist because the developer didn't know how to make one, or convert the documentation from another format, sometimes this is easily remedied.

I would like to note that I wish both always worked.

share|improve this answer

I agree with xenoterracide - both would be nice...
I expect --help to report functionality and options real short.
I expect man (or info...) to describe in detail what was previously reported by --help, maybe provide some examples, background etc.

share|improve this answer

Some people do not like man pages, and write info files instead (notably GNU).

share|improve this answer
Why? And which does help use? Here's the answer. – Cees Timmerman Oct 22 '14 at 8:42

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.