Why do Linux people always say to read the manual when it would be so much easier to just give you an answer? There's no manual! It didn't come with one.
closed as not constructive by jasonwryan, Gilles, Ulrich Dangel, Kyle Jones, manatwork Jan 1 at 9:08
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There is a manual, you just have to know where it is. It can be accessed with the
The manual contains detailed information about a variety of topics, which are separated into several sections:
To avoid being told to read the manual when you ask a question, try
I think the oft quoted Chinese proverb explains it well:
While you might think "But it's only one question, why can't they just tell me the answer", it's because the forums would become so full from people asking obvious questions that it would be hard for questions about more esoteric things to be noticed. So don't think of it as them putting you off -- think of it as them helping you to help yourself.
For example, it's trivial to find the answer to "How do I use grep to do a case insensitive search", especially once you are reminded to look in the man page. But for a question like "How do I do a case insensitive search on the first field of a file, but case sensitive on the remaining fields?", there's no simple man page that will tell you the answer, and there are a multitude of ways to answer it.
I believe this is because most experts would rather teach someone how to learn, rather than teach them some isolated fact or two. Telling someone to read the man page is trying to coax that someone on to the path of learning to learn by themselves.
I recall, but cannot google up, a study that claimed that the difference between a Unix novice and a Unix expert (not so different from a Linux novice or expert, perhaps) was that the expert knew how to look things up. While attempting to find that study, I found Prompt Comprehension in UNIX Command Production, which seems to contradict the study I recall. What a shame: all you need to do is know a boatload of facts to be an expert. But in that case, telling someone to read the manual can also serve to fill the questioner with knowledge, leading to the production of another Unix or Linux expert.
There's also a short- versus long-term time investment in the newbie asking the question. It certainly takes less time to say "use ls -ltr" for example, than it would to teach the newbie about file listing and options and so forth. But if the expert has to answer more than 3 or 4 questions, the long-term value of investing in having someone read the manual becomes obvious.