Provided by: man-db_2.4.3-3_i386 bug


       man - an interface to the on-line reference manuals


       man   [-c|-w|-tZ]  [-H[browser]]  [-T[device]]  [-adhu7V]  [-i|-I]  [-m
       system[,...]] [-L locale] [-p string] [-C file] [-M  path]  [-P  pager]
       [-r prompt] [-S list] [-e extension] [[section] page ...] ...
       man -l [-7] [-tZ] [-H[browser]] [-T[device]] [-p string] [-P pager] [-r
       prompt] file ...
       man -k [apropos options] regexp ...
       man -f [whatis options] page ...


       man is the system’s manual pager. Each page argument given  to  man  is
       normally  the  name of a program, utility or function.  The manual page
       associated with each of these arguments is then found and displayed.  A
       section,  if  provided, will direct man to look only in that section of
       the manual.  The default action is to search in all  of  the  available
       sections, following a pre-defined order and to show only the first page
       found, even if page exists in several sections.

       The table below shows the section numbers of the manual followed by the
       types of pages they contain.

       1   Executable programs or shell commands
       2   System calls (functions provided by the kernel)
       3   Library calls (functions within program libraries)
       4   Special files (usually found in /dev)
       5   File formats and conventions eg /etc/passwd
       6   Games
       7   Miscellaneous    (including    macro    packages   and
           conventions), e.g. man(7), groff(7)
       8   System administration commands (usually only for root)
       9   Kernel routines [Non standard]

       A manual page consists of several parts.

       They may be  labelled  NAME,  SYNOPSIS,  DESCRIPTION,  OPTIONS,  FILES,
       SEE ALSO, BUGS, and AUTHOR.

       The following conventions apply to the SYNOPSIS section and can be used
       as a guide in other sections.

       bold text          type exactly as shown.
       italic text        replace with appropriate argument.
       [-abc]             any or all arguments within [ ] are optional.
       -a|-b              options delimited by | cannot be used together.
       argument ...       argument is repeatable.
       [expression] ...   entire expression within [ ] is repeatable.

       The command or function illustration is a pattern that should match all
       possible  invocations.   In  some  cases  it is advisable to illustrate
       several exclusive invocations as is shown in the  SYNOPSIS  section  of
       this manual page.


       man ls
           Display the manual page for the item (program) ls.

       man -a intro
           Display,  in  succession,  all  of the available intro manual pages
           contained within the  manual.   It  is  possible  to  quit  between
           successive displays or skip any of them.

       man -t alias | lpr -Pps
           Format  the  manual  page  referenced  by  ‘alias’, usually a shell
           manual page, into the default troff or groff format and pipe it  to
           the  printer  named  ps.   The  default output for groff is usually
           PostScript.  man --help should advise  as  to  which  processor  is
           bound to the -t option.

       man -l -Tdvi ./foo.1x.gz > ./foo.1x.dvi
           This  command  will  decompress  and format the nroff source manual
           page  ./foo.1x.gz  into  a  device  independent  (dvi)  file.   The
           redirection  is  necessary  as  the  -T  flag  causes  output to be
           directed to stdout with no pager.  The output could be viewed  with
           a program such as xdvi or further processed into PostScript using a
           program such as dvips.

       man -k printf
           Search the short descriptions and manual page names for the keyword
           printf  as  regular expression.  Print out any matches.  Equivalent
           to apropos -r printf.

       man -f smail
           Lookup the manual pages referenced by smail and print out the short
           descriptions of any found.  Equivalent to whatis -r smail.


       Many  options are available to man in order to give as much flexibility
       as possible to the user.  Changes can  be  made  to  the  search  path,
       section  order,  output  processor, and other behaviours and operations
       detailed below.

       If set, various environment variables are interrogated to determine the
       operation  of  man.   It  is  possible  to set the ‘catch all’ variable
       $MANOPT to any string in command line format with  the  exception  that
       any  spaces  used  as  part  of  an  option’s  argument must be escaped
       (preceded by a backslash).  man will parse $MANOPT prior to parsing its
       own  command  line.   Those  options  requiring  an  argument  will  be
       overridden by the same options found on the command line.  To reset all
       of  the  options  set  in  $MANOPT,  -D can be specified as the initial
       command line option.  This will allow man to ‘forget’ about the options
       specified in $MANOPT although they must still have been valid.

       The  manual  pager  utilities  packaged as man-db make extensive use of
       index database caches.  These caches contain information such as  where
       each  manual  page  can  be found on the filesystem and what its whatis
       (short one line description of the man page) contains, and allow man to
       run  faster  than  if it had to search the filesystem each time to find
       the appropriate manual page.  If requested using  the  -u  option,  man
       will  ensure  that  the caches remain consistent, which can obviate the
       need to  manually  run  software  to  update  traditional  whatis  text

       If  man  cannot  find a mandb initiated index database for a particular
       manual page hierarchy, it will still search for  the  requested  manual
       pages,  although  file globbing will be necessary to search within that
       hierarchy.  If whatis or apropos fails to find an index it will try  to
       extract information from a traditional whatis database instead.

       These  utilities  support  compressed  source  nroff  files  having, by
       default, the extensions of .Z, .z and .gz.  It is possible to deal with
       any  compression  extension,  but  this  information  must  be known at
       compile time.  Also, by default, any cat pages produced are  compressed
       using gzip.  Each ‘global’ manual page hierarchy such as /usr/share/man
       or /usr/X11R6/man may have any directory as  its  cat  page  hierarchy.
       Traditionally  the cat pages are stored under the same hierarchy as the
       man pages, but  for  reasons  such  as  those  specified  in  the  File
       Hierarchy  Standard  (FHS),  it  may be better to store them elsewhere.
       For details on how to do this, please read manpath(5).  For details  on
       why to do this, read the standard.

       International  support is available with this package.  Native language
       manual pages are accessible (if available on your system)  via  use  of
       locale  functions.   To  activate  such support, it is necessary to set
       either $LC_MESSAGES, $LANG  or  another  system  dependent  environment
       variable to your language locale, usually specified in the POSIX 1003.1
       based format:


       If the desired page is available in your locale, it will  be  displayed
       in lieu of the standard (usually American English) page.

       Support  for  international message catalogues is also featured in this
       package and can be activated in the same way, again if  available.   If
       you  find  that  the  manual pages and message catalogues supplied with
       this package are not available in your native language  and  you  would
       like  to  supply  them,  please  contact  the  maintainer  who  will be
       coordinating such activity.

       For information regarding other features and extensions available  with
       this manual pager, please read the documents supplied with the package.


       man will search for the desired manual pages within the index  database
       caches.  If  the  -u  option  is  given,  a  cache consistency check is
       performed to ensure the databases accurately  reflect  the  filesystem.
       If  this  option  is always given, it is not generally necessary to run
       mandb after the caches are initially created, unless  a  cache  becomes
       corrupt.   However,  the cache consistency check can be slow on systems
       with many manual pages installed, so it is not  performed  by  default,
       and  system  administrators  may  wish to run mandb every week or so to
       keep the database  caches  fresh.   To  forestall  problems  caused  by
       outdated  caches, man will fall back to file globbing if a cache lookup
       fails, just as it would if no cache was present.

       Once a manual page has been located, a check is performed to  find  out
       if  a relative preformatted ‘cat’ file already exists and is newer than
       the nroff file.  If it does and is, this preformatted file is (usually)
       decompressed  and then displayed, via use of a pager.  The pager can be
       specified in a number of ways, or else will fall back to a  default  is
       used  (see option -P for details).  If no cat is found or is older than
       the nroff file, the nroff is filtered through various programs  and  is
       shown immediately.

       If  a cat file can be produced (a relative cat directory exists and has
       appropriate permissions), man will compress and store the cat  file  in
       the background.

       The  filters  are deciphered by a number of means. Firstly, the command
       line option -p or the environment variable $MANROFFSEQ is interrogated.
       If  -p  was  not  used  and  the  environment variable was not set, the
       initial line of the nroff file is parsed for a preprocessor string.  To
       contain a valid preprocessor string, the first line must resemble

       ’\" <string>

       where  string  can be any combination of letters described by option -p

       If none of the above methods provide any filter information, a  default
       set is used.

       A  formatting  pipeline  is  formed  from  the  filters and the primary
       formatter (nroff or [tg]roff with -t) and executed.  Alternatively,  if
       an  executable program mandb_nfmt (or mandb_tfmt with -t) exists in the
       man tree root, it is executed  instead.   It  gets  passed  the  manual
       source  file,  the  preprocessor  string,  and  optionally  the  device
       specified with -T or -E as arguments.


       Non argument options that are duplicated either on the command line, in
       $MANOPT,  or  both,  are  not  harmful.   For  options  that require an
       argument, each duplication will override the previous argument value.

       -l, --local-file
              Activate ‘local’ mode.  Format and display  local  manual  files
              instead  of  searching  through  the system’s manual collection.
              Each manual page argument will be interpreted as an nroff source
              file in the correct format.  No cat file is produced.  If ’-’ is
              listed as one of the arguments, input will be taken from  stdin.
              When  this  option  is  not used, and man fails to find the page
              required, before displaying the error message,  it  attempts  to
              act as if this option was supplied, using the name as a filename
              and looking for an exact match.

       -L locale, --locale=locale
              man will normally determine your current locale by a call to the
              C  function  setlocale(3) which interrogates various environment
              variables,  possibly  including  $LC_MESSAGES  and  $LANG.    To
              temporarily  override  the  determined value, use this option to
              supply a locale string directly to man.  Note that it  will  not
              take  effect until the search for pages actually begins.  Output
              such as the  help  message  will  always  be  displayed  in  the
              initially determined locale.

       -D, --default
              This  option  is  normally  issued  as the very first option and
              resets mans behaviour to its default.   Its  use  is  to  reset
              those  options  that  may have been set in $MANOPT.  Any options
              that follow -D will have their usual effect.

       -C file, --config-file=file
              Use this user configuration file  rather  than  the  default  of

       -M path, --manpath=path
              Specify  an  alternate  manpath  to  use.   By default, man uses
              manpath derived code to determine  the  path  to  search.   This
              option  overrides  the  $MANPATH environment variable and causes
              option -m to be ignored.

              A path specified as a manpath must be the root of a manual  page
              hierarchy  structured  into  sections as described in the man-db
              manual (under "The manual page system").  To view  manual  pages
              outside such hierarchies, see the -l option.

       -P pager, --pager=pager
              Specify  which  output  pager  to  use.   By  default,  man uses
              /usr/bin/pager -s.  This option overrides the $PAGER environment
              variable and is not used in conjunction with -f or -k.

       -r prompt, --prompt=prompt
              If  a  recent  version  of  less  is used as the pager, man will
              attempt to set  its  prompt  and  some  sensible  options.   The
              default prompt looks like

               Manual page name(sec) line x

              where name denotes the manual page name, sec denotes the section
              it was found under and x  the  current  line  number.   This  is
              achieved by using the $LESS environment variable.

              Supplying  -r  with  a  string  will override this default.  The
              string may contain the text $MAN_PN which will  be  expanded  to
              the  name  of  the  current  manual  page  and  its section name
              surrounded by ‘(’ and ‘)’.   The  string  used  to  produce  the
              default could be expressed as

              \ Manual\ page\ \$MAN_PN\ ?ltline\ %lt?L/%L.:
              byte\ %bB?s/%s..?\ (END):?pB %pB\\%..

              It  is  broken  into  two lines here for the sake of readability
              only.  For its meaning see the less(1) manual page.  The  prompt
              string  is  first  evaluated  by  the shell.  All double quotes,
              back-quotes and backslashes in the prompt must be escaped  by  a
              preceding  backslash.  The prompt string may end in an escaped $
              which may be followed by further options for less.   By  default
              man sets the -ix8 options.

              If   you   want  to  override  man’s  prompt  string  processing
              completely, use  the  $MANLESS  environment  variable  described

       -7, --ascii
              When  viewing a pure ascii(7) manual page on a 7 bit terminal or
              terminal emulator, some characters  may  not  display  correctly
              when  using  the  latin1(7)  device  description with GNU nroff.
              This option allows pure ascii manual pages to  be  displayed  in
              ascii  with the latin1 device.  It will not translate any latin1
              text.  The following table  shows  the  translations  performed:
              some  parts  of it may only be displayed properly when using GNU
              nroff’s latin1(7) device.

              Description           Octal   latin1   ascii
              continuation hyphen    255      ­        -
              bullet (middle dot)    267      ·        o
              acute accent           264      ´        ’
              multiplication sign    327      ×        x

              If the latin1 column displays correctly, your  terminal  may  be
              set  up  for latin1 characters and this option is not necessary.
              If the latin1 and ascii columns are identical, you  are  reading
              this  page  using  this  option  or man did not format this page
              using the latin1 device description.  If the  latin1  column  is
              missing  or corrupt, you may need to view manual pages with this

              This option is ignored when using options -t, -H, -T, or -Z  and
              may be useless for nroff other than GNUs.

       -S list, --sections=list
              List  is  a  colon-separated  list  of  ‘order  specific’ manual
              sections  to  search.   This  option  overrides   the   $MANSECT
              environment variable.

       -a, --all
              By  default,  man  will  exit after displaying the most suitable
              manual page it finds.  Using this option forces man  to  display
              all  the manual pages with names that match the search criteria.

       -c, --catman
              This option is not for general use and should only  be  used  by
              the catman program.

       -d, --debug
              Don’t  actually  display  any manual pages, but do print lots of
              debugging information.

       -e sub-extension, --extension=sub-extension
              Some systems incorporate large packages of manual pages, such as
              those  that accompany the Tcl package, into the main manual page
              hierarchy.  To get around the problem of having two manual pages
              with  the  same name such as exit(3), the Tcl pages were usually
              all assigned to section l.  As this is unfortunate,  it  is  now
              possible  to put the pages in the correct section, and to assign
              a specific ‘extension’ to them, in this case, exit(3tcl).  Under
              normal  operation,  man  will  display  exit(3) in preference to
              exit(3tcl).  To negotiate this situation and to avoid having  to
              know  which  section  the page you require resides in, it is now
              possible to give man a string indicating which package the  page
              must  belong  to.  Using the above example, supplying the option
              -e tcl to man will  restrict  the  search  to  pages  having  an
              extension of *tcl.

       -f, --whatis
              Equivalent  to  whatis.   Display  a  short description from the
              manual page, if available. See whatis(1) for details.

       -h, --help
              Print a help message and exit.

       -i, --ignore-case
              Ignore case when  searching  for  manual  pages.   This  is  the

       -I, --match-case
              Search for manual pages case-sensitively.

       -k, --apropos
              Equivalent   to   apropos.    Search   the   short  manual  page
              descriptions  for  keywords  and  display  any   matches.    See
              apropos(1) for details.

       -m system[,...], --systems=system[,...]
              If  this  system  has  access to other operating system’s manual
              pages, they can be accessed using this option.  To search for  a
              manual  page from NewOS’s manual page collection, use the option
              -m NewOS.

              The system specified can be a  combination  of  comma  delimited
              operating  system  names.   To  include  a  search of the native
              operating system’s manual pages, include the system name man  in
              the  argument  string.   This  option  will override the $SYSTEM
              environment variable.

       -p string, --preprocessor=string
              Specify the sequence of preprocessors to  run  before  nroff  or
              troff/groff.   Not  all  installations  will  have a full set of
              preprocessors.  Some of the preprocessors and the  letters  used
              to  designate  them  are:  eqn  (e), grap (g), pic (p), tbl (t),
              vgrind (v), refer (r).  This option  overrides  the  $MANROFFSEQ
              environment  variable.   zsoelim is always run as the very first

       -u, --update
              This option causes man to perform an ‘inode  level’  consistency
              check on its database caches to ensure that they are an accurate
              representation of the filesystem.  It will only  have  a  useful
              effect if man is installed with the setuid bit set.

       -t, --troff
              Use  /usr/bin/groff -mandoc to format the manual page to stdout.
              This option is not required in conjunction with -H, -T, or -Z.

       -T[device], --troff-device[=device]
              This option is used to change groff (or possibly troffs) output
              to  be suitable for a device other than the default.  It implies
              -t.  Examples (provided with Groff-1.17)  include  dvi,  latin1,
              ps, utf8, X75 and X100.

       -Z, --ditroff
              groff  will run troff and then use an appropriate post-processor
              to  produce  output  suitable  for  the   chosen   device.    If
              /usr/bin/groff  -mandoc is groff, this option is passed to groff
              and will suppress the use of a post-processor.  It implies -t.

       -H[browser], --html[=browser]
              This option will cause groff to produce HTML  output,  and  will
              display  that output in a web browser.  The choice of browser is
              determined by the optional browser argument if one is  provided,
              by  the  $BROWSER  environment  variable,  or  by a compile-time
              default if that is unset (usually lynx).   This  option  implies
              -t, and will only work with GNU troff.

       -E device, --encoding=device
              Generate output for a character encoding other than the default.
              Due to the way nroff is currently designed, the argument to this
              function must be an nroff device such as ascii, latin1, or utf8.

       -w, --where, --location
              Don’t actually display  the  manual  pages,  but  do  print  the
              location(s) of the source nroff files that would be formatted.

       -W, --where-cat, --location-cat
              Don’t  actually  display  the  manual  pages,  but  do print the
              location(s) of the cat files that would be displayed.  If -w and
              -W are both specified, print both separated by a space.

       -V, --version
              Display version information.


       0      Successful program execution.

       1      Usage, syntax or configuration file error.

       2      Operational error.

       3      A child process returned a non-zero exit status.

       16     At  least one of the pages/files/keywords didn’t exist or wasn’t


              If $MANPATH is set, its value is used as the path to search  for
              manual pages.

              If $MANROFFSEQ is set, its value is used to determine the set of
              preprocessors to pass each manual  page  through.   The  default
              preprocessor list is system dependent.

              If  $MANSECT  is  set,  its  value  is a colon-delimited list of
              sections and it is used to determine which  manual  sections  to
              search and in what order.

       PAGER  If  $PAGER  is set, its value is used as the name of the program
              used to display the manual page.  By default, /usr/bin/pager  -s
              is used.

              If  $MANLESS  is  set,  man  will  not  perform any of its usual
              processing to set  up  a  prompt  string  for  the  less  pager.
              Instead,  the  value  of  $MANLESS  will be copied verbatim into
              $LESS.  For example, if  you  want  to  set  the  prompt  string
              unconditionally   to   “my   prompt  string”,  set  $MANLESS  to
              ‘-Psmy prompt string’.

              If $BROWSER is set, its  value  is  a  colon-delimited  list  of
              commands,  each  of  which in turn is used to try to start a web
              browser for man --html.  In each command, %s is  replaced  by  a
              filename  containing  the HTML output from groff, %% is replaced
              by a single percent sign (%), and %c is replaced by a colon (:).

       SYSTEM If  $SYSTEM  is  set,  it will have the same effect as option -m
              string where string will be taken as $SYSTEM’s contents.

       MANOPT If $MANOPT is set, it will be parsed prior to mans command line
              and  is expected to be in a similar format.  As all of the other
              man specific environment variables can be expressed  as  command
              line  options,  and  are  thus  candidates for being included in
              $MANOPT it is expected that they will become obsolete.  N.B. All
              spaces  that  should  be  interpreted  as  part  of  an option’s
              argument must be escaped.

              If $MANWIDTH is set, its value is used as the  line  length  for
              which  manual  pages  should  be  formatted.   If it is not set,
              manual pages will be formatted with a line length appropriate to
              the  current terminal (using an ioctl(2) if available, the value
              of $COLUMNS, or falling back to  80  characters  if  neither  is
              available).   Cat  pages  will  only  be  saved when the default
              formatting can be used, that is when the terminal line length is
              between 66 and 80 characters.

              Depending  on system and implementation, either or both of $LANG
              and $LC_MESSAGES will be interrogated for  the  current  message
              locale.   man  will  display  its  messages  in  that locale (if
              available).  See setlocale(3) for precise details.


              man-db configuration file.

              A global manual page hierarchy.

              A traditional global index database cache.

              An alternate or FHS compliant global index database cache.


       mandb(8), manpath(1),  manpath(5),  apropos(1),  whatis(1),  catman(8),
       less(1),   nroff(1),   troff(1),  groff(1),  zsoelim(1),  setlocale(3),
       man(7), ascii(7), latin1(7), the man-db package manual, FSSTND.


       1990, 1991 - Originally written by John W. Eaton  (

       Dec 23 1992: Rik Faith ( applied bug fixes supplied by
       Willem Kasdorp (

       30th April 1994 - 23rd February 2000: Wilf. (
       has been developing and maintaining this package with the help of a few
       dedicated people.

       30th   October   1996   -   30th   March   2001:    Fabrizio    Polacco
       <>  maintained  and  enhanced  this  package for the
       Debian project, with the help of all the community.

       31st March 2001 - present day: Colin  Watson  <>  is
       now developing and maintaining man-db.