I was asked this today and got me wondering of the different ways a user could get help while using Ubuntu. The particular case I was asked was, how to get help about Ubuntu in Ubuntu if there is no Internet connection available.

If it were not for that, I would had said AskUbuntu and the Ubuntu forums first, followed by IRC. But since it is offline it would be good to know, all the ways a user can get help about using Ubuntu without having any online connection. Particularly when using commands, how to navigate in Ubuntu, how to use Ubuntu and get to know it. This are common questions for some students that have started with me which are:

  • Students that have NEVER used a computer (60+ Year old students I should mention). The plus side is that they know how a typewriter works.

  • Students that have never used Ubuntu before but are Windows users.

Both cases they want to learn how to use Ubuntu in a offline way, using only what help Ubuntu comes with. Of course they can also install any help packages needed before going offline forever, so installing a package not found in the default Ubuntu setup is not a problem.

The question should be treated as using the Latest official version of Ubuntu

Similar to https://askubuntu.com/questions/51566/what-is-the-best-place-for-learning-how-to-use-ubuntu but oriented toward offline usage.

3 Answers 3


On 12.10, you can search the dash lens for the word help and by selecting the result it will open up a useful, offline help menu displayed in yelp. I have tested this offline and it seems that everything in the document is accessible.

Please let me know if this does not answer your question.

  • Question requesting clarifications should be in comments (when you have enough rep) not in the answer. I have edited the answer to remove it. Jan 4, 2013 at 17:25
  • 1
    Thanks @JavierRivera! :) I knew that questions go in the comments but thought that it might help to know which version. Since I didn't have enough rep, I just stuck it in there.
    – ionyx
    Jan 4, 2013 at 17:32

there are a variety of means of obtaining helpful documentation from the *NIX CLI - namely (using 'cat' as an example):

  • man cat
  • cat --help
  • whatis cat
  • whereis cat
  • apropos concatenate

Given the demographic that you're referring to (namely seniors), the CLI may be overwhelming. However, if you were to apply this answer to a more apt target audience, such as young adults it becomes more applicable.

man cat | head

View manual entry for command 'cat'

CAT(1) User Commands CAT(1)

NAME cat - concatenate files and print on the standard output


cat --help

View options available for 'cat' command

Usage: cat [OPTION]... [FILE]... Concatenate FILE(s), or standard input, to standard output.

-A, --show-all equivalent to -vET -b, --number-nonblank number nonempty output lines, overrides -n -e
equivalent to -vE -E, --show-ends display $ at end of each line -n, --number number all output lines -s, --squeeze-blank suppress repeated empty output lines -t equivalent to -vT

whatis cat

What does the 'cat' command actually do?

cat (1) - concatenate files and print on the standard...

whereis cat

Where is the script actually located?

cat: /bin/cat /usr/share/man/man1/cat.1.gz

apropros concatenate

"I don't remember the name of the command...but I want to concatenate something - somehow."

cat (1) - concatenate files and print on the standard... dviconcat (1) - concatenate DVI files FcStrPlus (3) - concatenate two strings gvfs-cat (1) - Concatenate files ncat (1) - Concatenate and redirect sockets pnmcat (1)
- concatenate portable anymaps strcat (3) - concatenate two strings strncat (3) - concatenate two strings tac (1)
- concatenate and print files in reverse wcscat (3) - concatenate two wide-character strings

The only real problem with learning *NIX, as opposed to Windows at a glance is the transparency of the *NIX platform - it may be intimidating for new users (as opposed to Windows variants)

Perhaps opt for an Ubuntu distribution such as Xubuntu in lieu of Ubuntu. The XFCE display manager is minimalistic by design, and helps to reduce the stress of learning a new skill because you can simply focus on the task at hand.

If you're going with Ubuntu, I'd go with the KDE variant. Why? Simplicity.

  • Hi Tyler, can you also add ways to get help in the GUI. Jan 13, 2013 at 15:02

This was mentioned in the post you linked to, but think it is worthy of a mention here. The ubuntu manual project:


About the manual

Getting Started with Ubuntu 12.10 is a comprehensive beginners guide for the Ubuntu operating system. It is written under an open source license and is free for you to download, read, modify and share. The manual will help you become familiar with everyday tasks such as surfing the web, listening to music and scanning documents. With an emphasis on easy to follow instructions, it is suitable for all levels of experience.



Our project is an open source volunteer effort to create and maintain quality documentation for Ubuntu and its derivatives. We were founded in 2009 by Benjamin Humphrey, who saw the need for targeted up-to-date and consistent documentation for the Ubuntu operating system. It didn’t take long until the project amassed hundreds of contributors, and what Benjamin originally envisioned became a reality as the Ubuntu Manual Project blossomed into an ambitious and successful project. We have a strong emphasis on just "getting things done" and therefore we have a fast-paced development environment filled with lots of unique ideas. Our mission is to provide a wide range of quality educational materials to lower the Linux barrier to entry for new users and in turn increase Ubuntu’s market share.

It is a free resource, that at the very least you can download the PDF and leave it on your friends computer that they can refer to. It is more of a getting started guide, but gives a good overview of common tasks.

The best bet is to download directly from the linked website so you are getting the latest version relevant to the current release of Ubuntu. If you want the manual for a previous version, you can go to the downloads page to specify which version you'd like to download, and for which language.

Alternatively, you can purchase a copy - there is a Buy it Now link on the website

I haven't had any personal experience with the manual, but heard about it from a mate who passes it on when he sets up family members on Ubuntu. Just taking a look, it seems to cover a wide variety of topics, and seems like a good resource for anyone new to Ubuntu, to grasp basic concepts.

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