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Basic UNIX Commands for Beginners: Searching the man pages for Keywords

There are a number of shell variables, both built-in and user-defined

Detailed information about UNIX user commands, UNIX system administration commands, shells, important files, and much more can be found in the pages of the online system manual, better known as the man pages.  Man pages are accessed by using the man command and the name of a page for an argument.  For example, the following command will display the man page for the Korn shell:

# man ksh

ksh, on most systems, is the name of the Korn shell's executable file.

[ If you are new to UNIX and need an overview of important UNIX commands and concepts, check out our Basic UNIX Commands and Concepts Tutorial for Beginners ]

This method of displaying information from the man pages works fine until you find yourself in a situation where you have a basic idea of what you are looking for, but do not know the name of the relevant man page(s).  If the system you are using is configured to support it, you can search the descriptions of the man pages by adding the -k option and a search string to the man command:

# man -k <search_string>

Doing so will display a list of pages that contain your search string.

If you didn't know that "ksh" was the name of the man page for the Korn shell, you could use the following command to return a list of man pages that contain the string "korn" in their description:

# man -k korn
ksh      ksh (1)      - KornShell, a standard/restricted command and programming language
rksh     ksh (1)      - KornShell, a standard/restricted command and programming language

Each result includes the command or keyword, the name of the man page, the section of the system manual that contains the page, and the man page's description.  If one of the results is similar to what you are looking for, you can view the entire man page using the man command and the name of the page.