Explain Shell

Daniel Fussell dfussell at byu.edu
Tue Sep 10 12:56:07 MDT 2013

On 09/09/2013 03:27 PM, Alex Esplin wrote:
> It's a never-ending cycle between people discovering that they don't know
> something, being told to RTM, not understanding TM, looking for a
> translation layer (like the website in question) which helps them for a
> while, realizing that the translation layer isn't complete, realizing that
> somewhere along the way they have gained the ability to learn from man
> pages, creating a new translation layer, etc., etc...
Explainshell raised to questions for me:

1) Do I really want some unwashed site on the internets knowing what 
shell commands I might use in my environment?

2) Can man already do this?

At first I thought it would be great if man could return some subsection 
of the manpage, especially for huge pages like bash's that seem 
impossible to jump to the right section when you need it (what's the 
test syntax again, and the syntax difference for lexical and integer 
comparison?).  I just can't jump to the spot I need quickly.  And I 
could see only that one esoteric option on the same terminal without 
losing context of what I'm trying to do.  I'm ignoring of course, the 
normal practice of having 2 terminals open. Sometimes, you don't want to 
ssh to the server again, just for a program/version-matching man page.

Then I thought, "Wait, one task, do it well.  This is grep's job". So I 
tried piping man output to grep and sure enough, it didn't force the 
output to the pager.  Yay!  Everything I wanted, and never thought to 
try before.


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