Odds and Ends
Pages: 1, 2
So where do you go about finding all the commands on your FreeBSD
system so you have something to try out? At least once a year I like to
play with the
apropos command to see which commands are on
the FreeBSD system. For example, to see all of the built-in general
$ apropos '(1)'
If you happen to be half as curious as I am, give yourself a chunk of
time before you try that command. If one of the descriptions piques your
interest, read the associated man page. No matter how little or how much
experience you have in Unix, you will always find commands you either
haven't heard of or would like to learn more about. For example, this
year I came across
systat, one of those commands I can't
believe I've lived without.
If you just type
systat at a prompt, you probably won't be
impressed. The full power of this command comes from having the man page
open in one terminal and
systat running from another. Any man
page that includes a
pigs switch has to be worth checking
pigs is the default, type
systat, then try a
another terminal. Once you've ended your
:mbufs. I'll leave it to you to try your own experiments so
you can discover which switches are the most useful for your own needs.
I also remember to take the time to see which games come with the system:
$ apropos '(6)'
grdc just in time for my New Year's
resolution of remembering to step away from the computer at least once a
day in order to do some aerobic activity. The display is large enough for
me to see what time it is from across the room, despite my myopia.
I also rediscovered
quiz, a game I had forgotten about in
the last few years. To see what quizzes are available, simply type
quiz for a list. Each quiz type is on a line of its own and
consists of at least two words. For example, if I type:
$ quiz male female lad?
I'll be given a male term and should type in the female equivalent. If
I'm correct, I get a "Right!" and the next term. If I'm incorrect, I get a
"What?" and another chance. If I give up and want to know the answer, I
simply press enter. Pressing
Ctrl-c ends the game. The game
can also be played the other way around by typing this instead:
$ quiz female male
This utility includes quizzes for Latin, Greek, arithmetic, capitals, poetry, number sequences, and even Middle-Earth and Star Trek trivia.
Also in FreeBSD Basics:
Some of the games on your system supplement the man page with
additional documentation. This is a good time to mention that the
documentation that comes in the
/usr/share/doc directory is
truly awesome when you are ready to delve deeper into the inner mysteries
of Unix. You can also read and see the general layout of this
The documentation contains a who's who of Unix and many of the classic, "everybody should have a chance to read at least once" documents. It really is something to be able to read documentation from the very people who created Unix, the C programming language, the Fast File System, Sendmail, the Bourne shell, the C shell, vi, and so on. It's a good way to find out how things came to be and why they are the way they are. One of the many things I'm looking forward to in FreeBSD Release 5.0 is that some of the formerly encumbered documents will become available in the documentation. A list of those upcoming documents can be found in the CURRENT release notes.
Let's take a look at the contents of the documents directory:
$ ls -F /usr/share/doc IPv6/ bind/ ncurses/ ntp/ papers/ psd/ smm/ usd/
You'll note that it is composed of several subdirectories. The
psd is the Programmer's Supplementary Documents, the
smm is the System Manager's Manual, and the
is the User's Supplementary Documents. Those three subdirectories and the
papers subdirectory each contain a file called
contents.ascii.gz which gives a description of the
documentation found in the associated subdirectory.
You may remember that a
gz extension indicates a zipped
file. You don't have to unzip a file in order to read it. For example, to
see the contents of the psd, simply use the
$ zmore /usr/share/doc/psd/contents.ascii.gz
And if one of the documents looks interesting:
$ zmore /usr/share/doc/psd/12.make/paper.ascii.gz
Over the holidays, I always find time to reread portions of the documentation. I also go through my extensive bookmark collection and revisit the homepages of some of the authors of that documentation. If you're unfamiliar with some of the who's who, you may enjoy these links:
Between those URLs and the documentation, you should have plenty of quality reading to keep you busy and learning about your FreeBSD system for quite a while.
If you happen to be in the Ottawa area on January 25 and 26, check out the Open Source Weekend. Dan Langille and I will be manning the FreeBSD booth on Saturday, so drop by to say "hi" and show your support for FreeBSD. See you there.