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Basic Unix - Learning More

This article describes where to find more information about Unix.

As you gain experience working with Unix, you will find that you need more information. There are several sources where you can learn more about Unix.

The final authority on a system's version of Unix is the online manual for the current version -- the "man pages". (For further information, you may want to consult one of the books mentioned below.)

We have already described how the man command works in Basic Unix - Interacting with the Unix Command Line. The command line

> man man

gives details on the man command and its options. Note also the "SEE ALSO" portion of the man entry, which will point you to other commands you may find useful.

If you're not sure of the exact command name you want information about, you can find out all the commands related to a certain keyword by typing:

> man -k keyword-name
Printing man pages

You can print your own copy of any man page, directing it to a printer you've specified with the setenv PRINTER myprintername command.

Just use the "-t" option to the man command:

 > man -t name-of-command

You'll receive hardcopy of that man page on the printer you chose earlier.

Books and manuals

The computer section of almost any bookstore will have a plethora of different books on the Unix operating system and its various facets. If you are not already an experienced Unix user, the profusion of reference works can be confusing.

Probably our favorite is Life with Unix: a Guide for Everyone, by Don Libes and Sandy Ressler (Prentice-Hall, 1989; 346 pages). This is a friendly, eminently readable book covering the past, present and future of Unix; how to get information about Unix; user, programmer, and administrator environments; Usenet and other portions of the "Unix underground"; and a variety of other topics. It also has sidebars scattered throughout the book, in such categories as "hints and tips," "notes from the underground," "from the wizards," and "Unix funnies." Whether or not you learn anything from this book, you'll probably enjoy it a great deal.

For detailed information on specific commands and features, see the manuals put out by the University of California (Berkeley): the Unix User's Manual Reference Guide and Unix User's Manual Supplementary Guide. While not identical to SunOS, Berkeley Unix is close enough that these manuals can be useful, and they contain a wealth of information besides man pages -- including tutorials on text editing and formatting. 

Doing your homework

All this is a lot of information at first, but after you've worked with Unix a little while, it will become a lot easier. If you have questions after reading this document, though, please contact the IT Services Service Desk by phone at 2-5800 (773-702-5800), via email at, or get walk-in help at the TECHB@R on the first floor of Regenstein Library during reference desk hours.

The best way to get acquainted with Unix is simply to use it. Log in at least once, and do something: read news, send mail to friends who use email; create a .plan and .project.

No matter how far you progress in Unix, enjoy your explorations!

Keywords:learn   Doc ID:16200
Owner:Larry T.Group:University of Chicago
Created:2010-12-08 18:00 CSTUpdated:2015-03-30 05:26 CST
Sites:University of Chicago, University of Chicago - Sandbox
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