You might want to know the options to the programs we've introduced and get more information about them and the many other Unix programs. You're now ready to consult your system's documentation and other resources.
10.1.1 The man Command
Different versions of Unix have adapted Unix documentation in different ways. Almost all Unix systems have documentation derived from a manual originally called the Unix Programmer's Manual . The manual has numbered sections; each section is a collection of manual pages, often called manpages; each program has its own manpage . Section 1 has manpages for general Unix programs such as who and ls .
Mac OS X has individual manpages stored on the computer; users can read them online. If you want to know the correct syntax for entering a command or the particular features of a program, enter the command man and the name of the command. The syntax is:
For example, if you want to find information about the program vi , which allows you to edit files, enter:
$ man vi . . $
The output of man is filtered through the less pager in Mac OS X by default.
After you enter the command, the screen fills with text. Press the spacebar or Return to read more, and press q to quit.
Mac OS X also includes a command called apropos , or man -k , to help you locate a command if you have an idea of what it does but are not sure of its correct name. Enter apropos followed by a descriptive word; you'll get a list of commands that might help. To get this working, however, you need to first build the apropos database. This is done when Mac OS X runs its weekly maintenance job, which can be run manually with the following command:
$ sudo periodic weekly Password: $
Don't be surprised if it takes ten minutes or longer for the periodic command to complete; it's doing quite a lot of work in the background. Once complete, you can use apropos to find all commands related to PostScript, for example, with:
$ man -k postscript enscript(1) - convert text files to PostScript grops(1) - PostScript driver for groff pfbtops(1) - translate a PostScript font in .pfb format to ASCII pstopdf(1) - convert PostScript input into a PDF document
10.1.1.1 Problem checklist
10.1.2 Documentation Via the Internet
The Internet changes so quickly that any list of online Unix documentation we'd give you would soon be out of date. Still, the Internet is a great place to find out about Unix systems. Remember that there are many different versions of Unix, so some documentation you find may not be completely right for you. Also, some information you'll find may be far too technical for your needs (many computer professionals use and discuss Unix). But don't be discouraged! Once you've found a site with the general kind of information you want, you can probably come back later for more.
The premier place to start your exploration of online documentation for Mac OS X Unix is the Apple web site. But don't start on their home page. Start either on their Mac OS X page (http://www.apple.com/macosx/) or their Darwin project home page (http://developer.apple.com/darwin/). Another excellent place to get information about software downloads and add-ons to your Unix world is the Fink project (see Section 9.2 in Chapter 9).
Many Unix command names are plain English words, which can make searching hard. If you're looking for collections of Unix information, try searching for the Unix program named grep . One especially Unix-friendly search engine is Google, at http://www.google.com. Google offers a specialized Macintosh search engine at http://www.google.com/mac and a BSD search engine at http://www.google.com/bsd (which is useful because Mac OS X's Unix personality derives from its BSD heritage).
Here are some other places to try:
Bookstores, both traditional and online, are full of computer books. The books are written for a wide variety of needs and backgrounds. Unfortunately, many books are rushed to press, written by authors with minimal Unix experience, and full of errors. Before you buy a book, read through parts of it. Does the style (brief or lots of detail, chatty and friendly or organized as a reference) fit your needs? Search the Internet for reviews; online bookstores may have readers' comments on file.