I was recently listening to the Ubuntu Podcast. The hosts did their usual great job and on the episode in question they were interviewing David Britton of the Ubuntu Server Team. For years I’ve repurposed old computers to run as servers for various purposes in my home. Ubuntu allows me to run the same environment to apply solutions in my home as it does at scale in large enterprises.
In each episode the hosts gather feedback from their listeners and the responses are usually filled with nuggets and wonderful suggestions. In the episode linked above they got a question about tuning a laptop to maximize battery life and quickly mentioned the application (powertop) and a couple of the commands. What they didn’t mention was the syntax.
This often happens when running a command-line friendly operating system. It’s not the first time I’ve come across a command and then had no idea what to do with it. Thankfully, all you have to do is ask the man.
The man, of course, is the man pages or pages from the manual. In my case all I had to do was type in
man powertop and I saw the commands referenced from the podcast with their appropriate syntax. This gave me the information I needed to follow the podcast’s host’s instructions and get on with better battery life on my laptop.
So, quick advice. If you don’t know your syntax, check with the man.