Search your Linux machine for information about a certain package.

Posted: February 15, 2018. At: 10:01 AM. This was 2 weeks ago. Post ID: 11841
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Alien GIF.
Alien GIF.

To find information about a certain package on a Linux machine, the man command is very useful, but it does not show all man pages that could contain valuable information. The apropos command is what is required to find all pertinent information. This example below shows how to use this command to find all manual pages that are related to the xterm terminal emulator.

ubuntu ~ $ apropos xterm
koi8rxterm (1)       - X terminal emulator for KOI8-R environments
lxterm (1)           - locale-sensitive wrapper for xterm
resize (1)           - set environment and terminal settings to current xterm window size
uxterm (1)           - X terminal emulator for Unicode (UTF-8) environments
x-terminal-emulator (1) - locale-sensitive wrapper for xterm
xterm (1)            - terminal emulator for X

The whatis command is an alternative, but it only shows the one manual page that is associated with the search string.

ubuntu ~ $ whatis xterm
xterm (1)            - terminal emulator for X

Apropos is still much better for finding information about a package or command.

This is what you will get when apropos cannot find a match.

ubuntu ~ $ apropos wallpaper
wallpaper: nothing appropriate.

Get information about usage this way.

ubuntu ~ $ apropos --usage
Usage: apropos [-dverwal?V] [-C FILE] [-L LOCALE] [-m SYSTEM] [-M PATH]
            [-s LIST] [--debug] [--verbose] [--exact] [--regex] [--wildcard]
            [--and] [--long] [--config-file=FILE] [--locale=LOCALE]
            [--systems=SYSTEM] [--manpath=PATH] [--sections=LIST]
            [--section=LIST] [--help] [--usage] [--version] KEYWORD...

Sometimes, apropos will return a massive listing of manual pages and the user is not sure which one is which, so narrow the search down this way.

ubuntu ~ $ apropos linux | grep filesystem
filesystems (5)      - Linux filesystem types: minix, ext, ext2, ext3, ext4, Reiserfs, XFS, JFS, xia, msdos, umsdos, vfat, ntfs, proc, nfs, iso9660, hpfs, sysv, smb, ncpfs
fs (5)               - Linux filesystem types: minix, ext, ext2, ext3, ext4, Reiserfs, XFS, JFS, xia, msdos, umsdos, vfat, ntfs, proc, nfs, iso9660, hpfs, sysv, smb, ncpfs
fsck (8)             - check and repair a Linux filesystem
fsfreeze (8)         - suspend access to a filesystem (Linux Ext3/4, ReiserFS, JFS, XFS)
mkdosfs (8)          - create an MS-DOS filesystem under Linux
mkfs (8)             - build a Linux filesystem
mkfs.fat (8)         - create an MS-DOS filesystem under Linux
mkfs.msdos (8)       - create an MS-DOS filesystem under Linux
mkfs.vfat (8)        - create an MS-DOS filesystem under Linux

The apropos command is very good for searching manual pages for information about a certain package or command. This way, learning how to use your Linux machine is very easy to do.

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