What do I have to read to understand the manual and help documentation, etc.? I've had ubuntu on and off in total for some years, but I have never learnt anything, and never been able to solve a problem for myself. I think that is because I do not understand the documentation, so cannot learn from the documentation. Anything but a walk through is a bit like studying philosophy and getting to logical notation -- I don't understand what you are saying, because I do not understand how you are presenting it, even as I have a good grasp of how to reason logically (do affirm the consequent not the antecedent).

I am bright; certainly my reading comprehension. But I find it impossible to learn in languages that I do not understand, especially as I do not learn new vocabulary in that language unless I am sure I'm right. i.e. learning from -- rather than citing -- wikipedia is foolish and impossible for me. Is there no basic, authoritative and complete resource for learning to read -- fluently -- ubuntu documentation?

2 Answers 2


It would be way better if you have stated what problem you have tried to solve and failed using official ubuntu documentation. Many pages are about completely unrelated topics which means they have to use different formatting and have to be read differently.

Few hints:

  • if there's a word you don't understand do not lookup the dictionary or google translate, search the phrase with a context so you know the word actually means that word and is not a code name for a project (like "twig" which is a templating system)
  • do not try to read the whole documentation, but rather search for a specific problem.
  • the documentation is big. So do not assume it is always up to date (is a problem for any open source project).
  • Try to read software manuals if the Ubuntu manuals fails to answer your question. Use search engine or man packagename in Ubuntu terminal.
  • for any documentation, read about formatting software it is using, so you know when a text is a quote and when it's just a note. (For Ubuntu it is here: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/WikiGuide )
  • if any of the above fails, there's askubuntu site when you should ask about your issue
  • remember to create submissions to the official documentation if you see it should be updated and you know how

I know exactly what you mean. The documentation for Linux is vast and utterly useless to beginners -- because of the complete absence of examples. Most newcomers would learn far more easily by multiple working examples. Yet examples are almost non-existent in Linux command manuals. Someone said you can understand what juggling is by watching a juggler for a few seconds. Yet if you were to describe it, even a thousand pages won't be enough. That is the truth. Have these manual writers been told to avoid examples?

I am sure these long and comprehensive manuals are very important to serious app developers. But for the beginners I urge you to check out some of the many free website that teach the fundamentals in simple language AND by examples. I can give you a long list, but here is just one that put me in good stead when I started off: thefrugalcomputerguy (YouTube). Good luck my friend. And good for you to have highlighted a significant failing that hardly anybody talks about.

  • Yes but most if not every command on ubuntu has a man command page accessible via man command. Or command -h . I believe examples are not given because they differ from package version to package version and it is simpler to read man if the package Jul 26, 2020 at 14:30

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