#man RTFM
manual entry for RTFM

rtfm -- Acronym for Read The F*cking Manual

Person1: "How do I...?"
Person2: "RTFM"
Person1: "huh?"

RTFM is often used as a response to technical questions. Unfortunately,
many people don't even know how to *find* the manual, let alone
understand it.

If someone tells you to RTFM, they could mean any of the
(1) The manual says it better than I do, please look there.
(2) I'm too busy to answer you right now; try to find the answer
(3) I don't know the answer to your question.
(4) I've been asked this question too many times and I'm irritable.
Find the answer yourself.

There are a number of options available when you have been told to

(1) Try the man pages. (Or info, or --help)
This is useful if you know the name of the command or
application you are using. Type "man " (without the quotes)
followed by the name of the command. For more information on
man, (which is short for "manual") type "man man" (without the

If you don't know the exact command you need, try using apropos
or man -k to get a list of commands that do have man pages
available. (eg "man -k rename")

Also, sometimes there is more than one man page with the same
name that might be listed like this: "hiccup(8)" To get to that
particular page, use "man 8 hiccup".

Similarly, you can use the "info" command to get more
information on some applications, (type "info info" to learn
more about info) and you can often use the --help or -h flag
(eg "man --help") to get a quick summary of options.

(2) Look for other documentation on your machine.
Try looking in /usr/doc or /usr/doc/HOWTO or other
documentation directories. (The location of the documentation
will vary depending on how your system is setup.)

(3) Look at the Linux Documentation Project.
It can be found at http://www.linuxdoc.org/. In fact, this is
probably easier than looking for documentation on your system.

(4) Search the web.
Try looking through archives to see if anyone else has asked
the same question. I suggest using Google
(http://www.google.com/) for websearches or searching
newsgroups using http://groups.google.com, but there are many
other ways to do it.

If your queries are coming up with information that doesn't
help you, try including the search terms like "HOWTO", "FAQ" or

If you're using a specific application, make sure to look up
the webpage for that application. And try to look at the
homepage for your distribution (Eg: http://www.debian.org,
http://www.redhat.com, http://www.slackware.com, etc.). Often
they have search engines of their own.

(5) Rephrase your query.
Maybe what you asked was too broad or wasn't well understood.
Rather than just asking exactly the same thing again, try to
explain yourself further, telling people what you've tried and
what documentation you've already read. Ask if anyone knows
of a good HOW-TO or can direct you to a webpage. As a rule,
the more information you give about your problem the more
likely someone is to be able to help, and people are much more
willing to help you if you're showing that you're really
interested in learning.

If you've posted on a public forum, often there are many people
listening to your query, so give them a chance to respond
before giving up hope!

(6) Ask a knowledgeable friend.
If you know someone, they're more likely to feel guilty about
brushing you off and telling you to read the manual. It's not
a bad idea to offer to make them dinner or do them a favour as
a thank you!

man, info, help, http://www.linuxdoc.org

Many people are told to "RTFM" before they know what it stands for, nor
where to find the appropriate manual. This page is intended to help.

Terri Oda (terri (a) zone12.com) compiled this man page with the help of

the members of the lists at linuxchix.org.


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