Feeds

The netbook newbie's guide to Linux

One small step for Man...

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Open a terminal window in whichever version of Linux you are running and type pwd. This stands for 'print working directory', and the response you get will look something like this:

/home/user

This tells you that your current directory is called user, and is one level beneath the home directory, which is immediately off the topmost, 'root' directory, represented by the initial /. To get to a new directory we use the cd command we touched on last time, which stands for 'change directory', just as it does under DOS. To show the contents of the current working directory type ls, which is shorthand for 'list'.

Man man

Man Man

These commands - carried over from the original Unix on which Linux is modelled - are all characterised by brevity. Back in the day when you were having to enter all your commands from the keyboard there was an advantage to using as few keystrokes as possible. The GUI is often seen as a welcome release from this drudgery. But old hands - like Dave the Fingers - would point out that mouse excursions over the GUI can often be much more time and energy consuming, particularly when it sends you delving through layers of dialogue boxes, negotiating tabs and ticking boxes. A single command line incantation - assuming you know and can remember what it is - may get the same job done more quickly and more effectively.

But how did those old Unix guys remember all those esoteric commands? The answer: man. This three-letter command, standing for 'manual pages' gives the user systematic access to information about all the command-line operations, including the usually bewildering variety of parameters these commands accept.

Both SuSE Linux, supplied with the Wind, and the Xandros distro that comes with the Eee PC provide the man pages facility. Alas, it's missing from the AA1 . But that's very easily remedied. Last time, we saw how the yum package manager can be used to show what software is available on the machine and what can be added. It's not safe to add everything on the list, but let's see how we get on with the man pages.

Unix as Literature

Command line-averse users might do worse than read Thomas Scoville's article Unix as Literature here. It may not convert mouse-pushers, but it will at least give them some idea of where the key-tappers are coming from.

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft on the Threshold of a new name for Windows next week
Rebranded OS reportedly set to be flung open by Redmond
Business is back, baby! Hasta la VISTA, Win 8... Oh, yeah, Windows 9
Forget touchscreen millennials, Microsoft goes for mouse crowd
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Apple: SO sorry for the iOS 8.0.1 UPDATE BUNGLE HORROR
Apple kills 'upgrade'. Hey, Microsoft. You sure you want to be like these guys?
ARM gives Internet of Things a piece of its mind – the Cortex-M7
32-bit core packs some DSP for VIP IoT CPU LOL
Lotus Notes inventor Ozzie invents app to talk to people on your phone
Imagine that. Startup floats with voice collab app for Win iPhone
'Google is NOT the gatekeeper to the web, as some claim'
Plus: 'Pretty sure iOS 8.0.2 will just turn the iPhone into a fax machine'
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.