In GNU/Linux the term “Man page” refers to the manual page or the official documentation of a program. But unlike with never “help” pages, a man page is based on the console (command-line) thus it doesn’t have things like images (screenshots).
Even though the never programs come with pretty “help” pages of their own, still, almost all the core GNU/Linux utilities are documented using the “man” standards. And even never applications such as the LibreOffice office productivity suite or Firefox web browser etc have man pages of their own that can be viewed through the command-line.
Usually a man page can be retrieved/read by using the command “man” with the appropriate command of the program.
For instance, if I wanted to view the LibreOffice manual page in my command-line, then I’d use something like the below command. In this instance, this of course won’t give me the whole documentation that can be found in the GUI, but if the app is a command-line one, then its full documentation can be retrieved using the ‘man’.
Or if I wanted the man page of Firefox, then I’d use something like the below one.
But because finding man pages using the command-line can be a bit hectic (specially if you’re new) then there’s a GUI tool call “Gman” simplifies the whole process by letting you search and view man pages with ease.
Few main features …
*. Whether you know the name or not you can use it to quickly search and find a manual page of an app (using a keyword for instance).
*. There’s a handy option in Gman that lets us search for descriptions of apps so you can search using common terms like “package manager” or “audio player” etc if you really don’t know the exact name.
But the thing is, while I was using it, Gman couldn’t find any. But we can still use a command-line tool for that (more below).
*. Add/Remove categorized manual pages (such as: User commands, System calls, Devices, Games, Administrations etc).
*. View multiple man pages in various viewers (default is the “xterm” terminal emulator) and supports viewing man pages through web browser as well.
*. Add/Remove man page paths.
Well, that’s about it.
You can install Gman in Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin, 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, 11.04 Natty Narwhal, 10.10 and 10.04 by using the below command in your Terminal window.
sudo apt-get install gman
Even though this is a GUI tool, still after installing I couldn’t find it in Unity Dash. So put its command in the Terminal window (as shown below) to launch it.
It also lets us open more than one manual page at once too.
How to search man pages using descriptions …
As said before, I couldn’t get it to work with searching using small descriptions on the manual pages. But as a fix, we can still use the original “man” command for that.
So, let’s say that I wanted to search for the term “web browser”. Then I’d use the below command.
man -k web browser
This should give an output similar to the above one (depending on your installed apps, this might change). Replace “web browser” with your description. That’s all I have to say about that ;-).