Digital Communication


Digital Communication

whatis command: command information


The Linux whatis command provides a brief explanation of a specific command in the command line. This allows you to remember, while working in the shell, how to use various tools and commands.

What is Linux whatis?

One of the nice advantages of Linux and Linux distributions, such as Debian or Ubuntu, is the great freedom that the operating system and its components offer to users. Depending on the distribution, the possibilities are almost limitless. One of the prerequisites is thecorrect use of many Linux commands. In order to understand the effects of each command, it helps to be able to take a look at the man pages, as well as guides such as this one. These references provide important details about a command, its options and its limitations. However, if you only need a brief reminder of a command, the whatis command is a very helpful alternative.

How does the whatis command work?

When you enter the whatis command, you receive in the command line a short clarification as to the use of a specific command. It’s just a few words, at most a little memory aid. But if you use Linux and the command lines regularly or are quite interested in the corresponding tutorials, this information is usually already sufficient. You can then use the desired command for your project.

What is the Linux whatis syntax?

The official syntax of the whatis command seems quite complicated. The command is however very simple to use. Here is the syntax:

$ whatis [-dlv?V] [-r|-w] [-s  list] [-m system[,...]] [-M path] [-L locale] [-C file] name ...


You may also receive information about multiple orders. To do this, write the commands one after the other.

What are the Linux whatis options?

There are a few options by which you can adapt the whatis command. Here are the main ones:

  • -d or –debug : With this option, debug information is also shown.
  • -v or –verbose : with this option, detailed warnings are also indicated.

Examples of using the whatis command

In order to understand how exactly whatis works, we present some simple examples of using the command.

Here you receive some brief information about the passwd command.

In this case, you receive information about the cd command and the killall command. They are displayed one below the other.

Here you receive debugging information about the wget command.

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