Often there are times when you might need help with a specific command, setting up a program, or getting a piece of hardware to work. Maybe you simply want to understand a given command better, or see what other options are available to use with it. Luckily, there are a variety of ways that you can get the help you're looking for. After you have installed Zenwalk you have the option of installing packages from the [extra/f] series which includes FAQs and HOWTOs. Programs also come with help about their options, configuration files, and usage.

System Help


The man command (short for "manual") is the traditional form of online documentation in Unix and Linux operating systems. Comprised of specially formatted files, the “man pages”, are written for the vast majority of commands and are distributed with the software itself. Executing man somecommand will display the man page for (naturally) the command specified, in our example this would be the imaginary program somecommand.

As you might imagine, the amount of man pages can quickly add up, becoming overly confusing and seriously complicated, even for an advanced user. So, for this reason, man pages are grouped into enumerated sections. This system has been around for a very long time; enough so that you will often see commands, programs, and even programming library functions referred to with their man section number.

For example :

You might see a reference to man. The numbering tells you that "man" is documented in section 1 (user commands) ; you can specify that you want the section 1 man page for man with the command : man 1 man. Specifying the section that man should look in is useful in the case of multiple items with the same name.

Table 2.1. Man Page Sections

  Sections	Contents
  Section 1	user commands (intro only)
  Section 2	system calls
  Section 3	C library calls
  Section 4	devices (e.g., sd, sr)
  Section 5	file formats and protocols (e.g., wtmp, /etc/passwd, nfs)
  Section 6	games (intro only)
  Section 7	conventions, macro packages, etc. (e.g., nroff, ascii)
  Section 8	system administration (intro only)

In addition to man, there are the commands whatis and apropos available to you, whose shared purpose is to make it easier to find information in the man system.

The command whatis gives a very brief description of system commands, somewhat in the style of a pocket command reference.

Example :

  % whatis whatis
  whatis (1)  - search the whatis database for complete words

The command apropos is used to search for a man page containing a given keyword.

Example :

  % apropos wav
  cdda2wav     (1)  - a sampling utility that dumps CD audio data into wav sound files
  netwave_cs   (4)  - Xircom Creditcard Netwave device driver
  oggdec       (1)  - simple decoder, Ogg Vorbis file to PCM audio file (WAV or RAW)
  wavelan      (4)  - AT&T GIS WaveLAN ISA device driver
  wavelan_cs   (4)  - AT&T GIS WaveLAN PCMCIA device driver
  wvlan_cs     (4)  - Lucent WaveLAN/IEEE 802.11 device driver
  fadeplot     (6)  - draws a waving ribbon following a sinusoidal path
  flag         (6)  - draws a waving flag, containing text or an image
  interference (6)  - decaying sinusoidal waves

If you'd like further information on any of these commands, read their man pages for the details. ;)

The /usr/doc Directory

The source for most packages that we build comes with some sort of documentation : README files, usage instructions, licence files, etc. Any sort of documentation that comes with the source is included and installed on your system in the /usr/doc directory. Each program will (usually) install its own documentation in the order of :


Where $program is the name of the program you are wanting to read about, and $version is (obviously) the appropriate version of software package installed on your system.

For example, to read the documentation for the command man you would want to cd to :

`$ cd /usr/doc/man-$version`

If reading the appropriate man page(s) doesn't provide you with enough information, or address what you're looking for in particular, the `/usr/doc` directory should be your next stop.


It is in the truest spirit of the Open Source community that brings us to the HOWTO/mini-HOWTO collection. These files are exactly what they sound like - documents and guides describing how to do stuff. If you installed the HOWTO collection, the HOWTOs will be installed to `/usr/doc/Linux-HOWTOs` and the mini-HOWTOs to `/usr/doc/Linux-mini-HOWTOs`.

Also included in the same package series is a collection of FAQs, which is an acronym which stands for: Frequently Asked Questions.

These documents are written in a “Question and Answer” style for (surprise) Frequently Asked Questions. The FAQs can often be a very useful place to look if you're just looking for a “Quick Fix” to something. If you decide to install the FAQs, you will find them installed to /usr/doc/Linux-FAQs directory.

These files are well worth reading whenever you're not quite sure to proceed with something. They cover an amazing range of topics, more often than not in a surprisingly detailed manner. Good stuff !

Online Help

In addition to the documentation provided an installable with the Zenwalk Linux Operating System, there are a vast multitude of online resources available for you to learn from as well.

The Official Website and Help Forum

The Official Zenwalk Website

The official Zenwalk website contains informations relevant to the latest Zenwalk version including the current version changelog as well as the development (also called snapshot) version changelog. You can also find an active help Forum.

E-mail Support

Zenwalk have some dedicated mailing lists :