For many, many years now when I want to browse a man page about something I’ll type man X into my terminal, substituting X for whatever it is I wish to learn about. Depending on the manual, it’s short and therefore easy to find what I want, or I am deep in the woods because I’m trying to find a specific flag that appears many times in a very long document. Woe is me if the flag switch is a bare letter, like x.

And let’s say it is x. Now I am searching with /x followed by n n n n n n n n N n n n n n. Obviously I’m not finding the information I want, the search is literal (not fuzzy, nor “whole word”), and even if I find something the manual pager might overshoot me because finding text will move the found line to the top of the terminal, and maybe the information I really want comes one or two lines above.

So… there HAS to be a better way, right? There has to be a modern, fast, easily greppable version to go through a man page. Does it exist?

P.S. I am not talking about summaries like tldr because I typically don’t need summaries but actual technical descriptions.

  • pr06lefs@lemmy.ml
    link
    fedilink
    arrow-up
    46
    arrow-down
    2
    ·
    edit-2
    12 days ago

    Kind of off topic, but you know what would be cool? If you had an ‘man explain’ command that would define all the flags/args in a command, like:

    man explain rsync --append-verify --progress -avz -e "ssh -p 2222" root@$dip:/sdcard/DCIM/Camera newphonepix

    Would give you:

    rsync - a fast, versatile, remote (and local) file-copying tool
          --append-verify          --append w/old data in file checksum
          --progress               show progress during transfer
          --archive, -a            archive mode is -rlptgoD (no -A,-X,-U,-N,-H)
          --verbose, -v            increase verbosity
          --compress, -z           compress file data during the transfer
          --rsh=COMMAND, -e        specify the remote shell to use 
    

    etc.

    • thingsiplay@beehaw.org
      link
      fedilink
      arrow-up
      11
      ·
      12 days ago

      You can just grep the help output

      $ rsync --help 2>&1 | grep -E '^ *(--append-verify|--progress|--archive)'
      --archive, -a            archive mode is -rlptgoD (no -A,-X,-U,-N,-H)
      --append-verify          --append w/old data in file checksum
      --progress               show progress during transfer
      

      So it should be possible to create a simple script to do that. Similarly one can output the man document as text to stdout, which in turn can be grepped. I have no grep command at hand to do this in a useful way:

      man grep | col -b
      
    • gomp@lemmy.ml
      link
      fedilink
      arrow-up
      9
      ·
      12 days ago

      Here’s what I get in fish when I start writing a rsync command and hit tab to ask for completions:

      ❱ rsync --append-verify --progress -avz -
      -0  --from0                               (All *from/filter files are delimited by 0s)  --delete                   (Delete files that don’t exist on sender)
      -4  --ipv4                                                               (Prefer IPv4)  --delete-after         (Receiver deletes after transfer, not before)
      -6  --ipv6                                                               (Prefer IPv6)  --delete-before         (Receiver deletes before transfer (default))
      -8  --8-bit-output                          (Leave high-bit chars unescaped in output)  --delete-delay                 (Find deletions during, delete after)
      [more lines omitted]
      
    • Majestix@lemmy.world
      link
      fedilink
      arrow-up
      6
      arrow-down
      2
      ·
      12 days ago

      There is a Plugin for Zsh (ohmyzsh) that gives you that right in the shell. I use it all the time and rely on it. Don’t have the name on my mind though, sorry.

  • traches@sh.itjust.works
    link
    fedilink
    English
    arrow-up
    12
    ·
    12 days ago

    I’d also like some guidance on this problem (other than “use emacs”), but searching for “ -x” will have a lower false positive rate

  • kbal@fedia.io
    link
    fedilink
    arrow-up
    12
    ·
    edit-2
    12 days ago

    I am searching with /x

    On most systems these days you can use regular expressions there. If /-x isn’t good enough try /-x[ ,] or whatever.

  • Obi@sopuli.xyz
    link
    fedilink
    arrow-up
    12
    arrow-down
    2
    ·
    12 days ago

    As someone with 0 knowledge of Linux (and very little of programming/command lines in general), this thread reads funny AF.

    • martinb@lemmy.sdf.org
      link
      fedilink
      arrow-up
      2
      ·
      10 days ago

      We are deep in the technical weeds here. 95% of Linux usage really doesn’t require such humour unfortunately.

  • jeffreyosborne@lemm.ee
    link
    fedilink
    arrow-up
    10
    ·
    12 days ago

    I like tldr. It doesnt give incredibly in depth explanations, but it does show the basics of using most commands.

  • vzq@lemmy.blahaj.zone
    link
    fedilink
    arrow-up
    11
    arrow-down
    1
    ·
    12 days ago

    Honestly, I usually just “man command” in google.

    I know it’s wrong but my browser is tiled next to my terminal and it’s easy to look up stuff.

  • OneCardboardBox@lemmy.sdf.org
    link
    fedilink
    English
    arrow-up
    9
    arrow-down
    2
    ·
    12 days ago

    As an emacs user, I use M-x man. All my standard keybindings make finding what I need very easy.

    Of course, it’s not so fast if you aren’t already in emacs.

    • thingsiplay@beehaw.org
      link
      fedilink
      arrow-up
      15
      ·
      edit-2
      12 days ago

      I want to mention that one can set the pager for man to be Vim too. Then it would load the document in Vim instead in less for display and navigation. This can be set with option man -P pager or with the environmental variable $MANPAGER or $PAGER . I had set this up in the past with original Vim, but it required some special options for Vim as well. It was nice, but ultimately not needed; so I went back to less. Sometimes less is more.

      Edit: Here is how one can use Neovim as the pager:

      export MANPAGER='nvim +Man!'
      

      I kind of missed it and will set it to this now. Put this line in the Bash configuration .bashrc and every man document is loaded in Neovim now.

    • amanneedsamaid@sopuli.xyz
      link
      fedilink
      English
      arrow-up
      2
      arrow-down
      1
      ·
      12 days ago

      +1, displaying in a Emacs buffer solves any issues I could have. If you’re already ‘in’ Emacs, this will be more frictionless than shell scripts around man

  • thingsiplay@beehaw.org
    link
    fedilink
    arrow-up
    5
    ·
    edit-2
    12 days ago

    Sorry for my previous comment. I was commenting before reading the entire post and was missing the point. On a sidenote, its often enough and helpful to just list the options with program -h or --help . Sometimes the help option has more information or is easier to understand than the man document.

    When I search for options in a man document, I usually try it with putting a dash in front of it as -x or --ignore in example. For really large documents sometimes it can help to add a space before it " -x" or a comma after it "-x, " depending on how its actually written. BTW the man program itself has a builtin help you can show by just pressing h while looking at a document.

  • PseudoSpock@lemmy.dbzer0.com
    link
    fedilink
    arrow-up
    5
    ·
    12 days ago
           man -k printf
               Search  the short descriptions and manual page names for the keyword
               printf as regular expression.  Print out any matches.  Equivalent to
               apropos printf.
    
  • Schmerzbold@feddit.org
    link
    fedilink
    English
    arrow-up
    4
    ·
    edit-2
    12 days ago

    You can set on what line on the screen less (the pager program man uses by default) puts search results with the -jn/--jump-target=n option. For example, using .5 as a value for n makes less focus the line with the search result on the center of the screen. This should help with your overshoot issue.

    Either set the option within less with the - command followed by j.5↵ for the current running instance of less, or set and export the LESS environment variable inside your ~/.bashrc to have less always behave that way.

  • ParetoOptimalDev@lemmy.today
    link
    fedilink
    arrow-up
    6
    arrow-down
    2
    ·
    11 days ago

    woman in emacs.

    I also find info pages much nicer to use after an adjustment period given I grew up on vim and man.