man - format and display the on-line manual pages ("on-line" meaning “on the computer”, as opposed to “on paper”, not “on the Internet”)

A traditional Unix documentation system, man is the main documentation scheme on most Unix-like OS's.

According to man itself, it is:

an interface to the on-line reference manuals.

The pages are usually written in English, with translations sometimes provided.

Man topics fall into these numbered sections, though section numbers may differ from system to system:

  • 1 - Executable programs and shell commands, eg. man aspell or man 1 aspell

  • 2 - System calls (kernel functions), eg. man delete_module or man 2 delete_module

  • 3 - Library calls, eg. man 3 assert

  • 4 - Special files (usually devices found in /dev) and drivers, eg. man console

  • 5 - File formats and conventions, eg. man bounce

  • 6 - Games and screensavers, eg: man gnome-mahjongg

  • 7 - Miscellaneous (including macro packages and conventions), e.g. man 7 man, man x

  • 8 - System administration commands (usually only for root), e.g. man wpa_passphrase

  • 9 - Kernel routines [Non standard]

  • 0 - C library header files [Non standard]

Section numbers are used in man calls for disambiguation, when there are documents for the same names, but different topics, in different sections, eg.

  • man 2 exit for exit kernel function terminating the calling process immediately, and

  • man 3 exit for a standard library function call that causes normal termination of the process.

Similar documentation standards

Shell built-ins usually do not have their separate man pages. Their short description can be viewed with the help command.

In recent years, software providers often choose info pages as their documentation scheme.

Useful commands

  • Man pages of man

    man man

Further reading

Internal links

External links

See also

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