Getting Linux Help HOWTO


Revision History
Revision 0.12004-05-14rb
first draft
Revision 0.22004-06-21rb
Incorporated changes suggested by various individuals on discuss@tldp mailing list. Added several screen shots.
Revision 0.32004-06-24rb
Incorporated additional changes suggested by various individuals on discuss@tldp mailing list. Added coverage of man -k, apropos, and whatis commands. Expanded section on search engines to include other search engines, meta search engines, and directories of search engines.


This HOWTO is meant to help a new Linux user get answers to questions they might have about Linux. It will teach the new Linux user where to look for answers and enough to understand the answers they are given.

Table of Contents

Copyright and License
Credits / Contributors
Getting Started
Google and Other Search Engines
Other Search Engines
Man and Info Pages
Konqueror Support For Man and Info Pages
Finding Your Man Page and Whatis Apropos
Documentation On Your System
Internet Relay Chat - IRC
Chat Clients
Choosing The Channel
The Linux Documentation Project
Project Web Sites
Mailing Lists
Using the Command Line
Getting A Terminal Window
Command Line Basics
Link List
Further Information


One of the great strengths of Linux is the the wealth of information that is available on it. One of the great criticisms is that finding the information you need, when you are just learning Linux can be a daunting task. The goal of this HOWTO is to teach you about the best ways to look for helpful information about Linux.

In the course of this article, we'll discuss how you can use Google, Man Pages, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), The Linux Documentation Project, documentation already on your computer and a number of other valuable information sources to get the help you need. You may be surprised just how quickly you can get help.

This document will not give you much direct help on a particular problem, like installing the most recent version of your favorite distribution. It's meant to be a roadmap to the places where you can find that help.

I'm sure that this document can be improved and I welcome criticisms and suggestions. Please let me know what you think of this document and how I can improve it.

Copyright and License

This document, Getting Linux Help HOWTO, is copyrighted (c) 2004 by Ray Benjamin. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is available at

Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds, Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation, and Google is a registered trademark of Google.


No liability for the contents of this document can be accepted. Use the concepts, examples and information at your own risk. There may be errors and inaccuracies, that could be damaging to your system. Proceed with caution, and although this is highly unlikely, the author(s) do not take any responsibility.

All copyrights are held by their by their respective owners, unless specifically noted otherwise. Use of a term in this document should not be regarded as affecting the validity of any trademark or service mark. Naming of particular products or brands should not be seen as endorsements.

Credits / Contributors

In this document, I have the pleasure of acknowledging:

  • The participants on The Linux Documentation Project discussion mailing list who provided feedback that has greatly improved this document.

  • All the people on the IRC Channel #musb who explained things to me and helped me find information when I got stuck. This document would not have been created without their help.

  • Pamela Jones of GrokLaw, GrokLine, and GrokDoc who encouraged me to write this document.


Feedback is most certainly welcome for this document. Send your additions, comments and criticisms to the following email address : .


At present there are no translations of this document. Please feel free to pitch in if this is something you are interested in doing.