Linux – Tab Autocomplete, Whatis, Man Pages, –Help

The UX for Linux can cause fits of laughter for all of the wrong reasons. Even the tools that are offered to help users can be frustrating to use and understand. We will go over Tab Autocomplete, whatis, man pages and the help command.

Tab Autocomplete

  • Type the beginning of a command and then hit the tab key (possibly twice) and a list of commands that start with your input will be shown.

whatis Command

  • Type whatis and then a command name and a short explanation of the command will be displayed.

Man Pages

  • Man pages are manual pages that are built into the Linux operating system and were copied from Unix.
  • Type Man and then the command and the Man Page will be displayed.
man ifconfig 


  • Typing –help after a command will display the info page for the command.
  • Info Pages are supposed to be an updated version of Man Pages.
  • Commands will have both Man Pages and Info Pages so users can choose which format they prefer.
  • Use –help|less to give yourself ability to scroll through the info page. Use q to exit.
ifconfig --help|less


  1. The reason why shortcuts are so different is that the programs
    underneath have been written over a period of 40 years and the user
    land is not a coordinated effort on Linux –
    almost every tool exists in three versions with a different user
    experience (Linux tools, System V tools, BSD tools).
    For instance ‘man’ comes from the Unix PDP-11 age from the
    Bell labs.. 🙂

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