Make Documentation Easier to Read February 4, 2006Posted by Carthik in administration, snippets, ubuntu.
Today’s tip rules them all, for it puts you in the driver’s seat.
Debian (and ergo Ubuntu) has some of the best documentation in the world. The best thing about the documentation is that it is on your machine, not on the internet. However not many realize this, and many a problem that can be solved just by reading the documentation remains unsolved, and many a user resorts to forums, mailing lists etc when the answer is right there on their own computer. I am guilty too, having realized the power of RTFM-ing before.
You can browse most of the html documentation on your system by
Clicking the System -> Help menu item on the desktop taskbar. Besides Manual Pages, and other Documentation, you will find lots of docs for the different applications.
But what if the tool/library you installed does not come with a GUI, or a menu entry? The documentation for all packages is installed in
/usr/share/doc. You could use the terminal to change to that directory and then look around to find the directory containing documentation for the package. Or you could use today’s tip 🙂
To make documentation easier to access, set CDPATH as follows:
To make the change permanent (across terminal sessions/restarts), add the line to your ~/.bashrc file.
Now, to find documentation for package-name
and then you can do an
$ls to see what documentation is on offer. You can then use your favourite editor/pager to read the documentation.
Often, if you have problems with a package, it is good to read the README.Debian file to see if there are any special notes explaining workarounds or expected problems.
$ pager README.Debian
If there is a file called index.html, you can read the html documentation using
There, now you are all set to go exploring and find out more about the packages installed on your system. I was literally overjoyed to find the “CDPATH” variable for bash which makes things so much easier.