When did you last read a manual?!

This is partly inspired by @dasgeek 's hilarious Pinebook Pro unboxing video, though more seriously to do with my VM questions a while back and subsequent experiments with Virtualbox running on Debian Stable.

Needing stable VMs for my workflows, especially experimenting with LFS installation, which I think is taking-off in our community, I ended up reading at least 100 pages of the Virtualbox official manual. It was very useful because it taught me a lot about default options for mouse and video drivers and how changing them can help. I’m going to do an advice tip on it - hopefully today, to summarise what I learned for others.

When was the last time you read a user manual / installation guide etc.? What was it for? In what ways did you find it helpful or unhelpful?


I last read a manual last week, it was man tar
I was trying to understand how to pack and unpack several folders with symlinks between them, and it was totally not helpful :grin:

On a positive note, super helpful manuals are: Pi-hole official guide, Nextcloud installation guide, LXD containers quickstart guide, Digital Ocean guides for LAMP/LEMP, and Simos Xenitellis`s blog which is full of tips and tricks for LXD containers.


How dare you post this! :joy:

I love reading books but tend to skim manuals. After my unboxing video I did read through some of the Pinebook Pro manual online to figure out the kill-switches. I wrote the ‘accessibility’ section of the manual for Pop_OS! and contributed to the Arch Wiki. So I don’t read them but I expect everyone else to lol.


Today, but it depends what you mean.

I partially read or reference the documentation for things online often (today Elastalert and HAProxy ACLs), but I rarely systematically go through the whole manual for anything.

That’s probably the nature of my job though, I need to read ‘installing’ and ‘configuring’ and ‘administrator’ sections but then I hand it off to the user and they can deal with the rest.

In terms of physical documentation, I started reading UNIX and Linux System Administration about a year ago but something probably happened on the computer to tear me away from it and back to the screen, and I’ve not picked it up again since.

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I use man <insert_cmd_here> almost everyday.


Every time I try to do that with anything but classic commands, I get some stub manpage that tells me to look at the docs online :frowning:

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I read some kind of documentation maybe every day or at least every other day or so. I am often trying to do something I haven’t done before needing to look up something. :smiley:

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Just a moment ago because I forgot how to set up Audacity with Pulse.

But it happens now and then and I often use the command man and whatever the cli application is I want to try out or learn. I think it was replaygain.

It just looks sexy:


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I tried reading man youtube-dl on how to download a simple youtube video… And all i got was syntax. At the end of the hundred thousand page document, i was still unable to do a simple download just on the cli as a single line.

The man (and --help) says:

youtube-dl [options] URL [url…]

But i was not able to download the file and gave me an error that was not really helpful or intuitive

Edit: previously, i was able to download using a list file. I was trying to download a youtube url without using a list file and i was not able.

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Whenever you’re unable to download video via youtube-dl, update it to newest version. Remember that some repositories don’t update it regularly.