Provided by: man-db_2.5.2-2_i386 bug


       man - an interface to the on-line reference manuals


       man  [-c|-w|-tZ] [-H[browser]] [-T[device]] [-X[dpi]] [-adhu7V] [-i|-I]
       [-m system[,...]] [-L locale] [-p  string]  [-C  file]  [-M  path]  [-P
       pager]  [-r  prompt]  [-S  list] [-e extension] [--warnings [warnings]]
       [[section] page ...] ...
       man -l [-7] [-tZ] [-H[browser]] [-T[device]] [-X[dpi]] [-p string]  [-P
       pager] [-r prompt] [--warnings[warnings]] 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 sections.

       Conventional  section  names  include  NAME,  SYNOPSIS,  CONFIGURATION,
       SEE ALSO.

       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.

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

       -d, --debug
              Print debugging information.

       -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.

              Enable  warnings from groff.  This may be used to perform sanity
              checks on the source text of manual pages.  warnings is a comma-
              separated  list  of  warning  names;  if it is not supplied, the
              default is "mac".

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

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

       -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.

       -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.

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

       -R encoding, --recode=encoding
              Instead  of  formatting the manual page in the usual way, output
              its source converted to the specified encoding.  If you  already
              know  the  encoding  of  the  source  file,  you  can  also  use
              manconv(1) directly.  However, this option allows you to convert
              several  manual  pages  to  a  single encoding without having to
              explicitly state the encoding of each, provided that  they  were
              already  installed  in  a  structure  similar  to  a manual page

   Finding manual pages
       -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.

       -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.

       -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.

       -S list, -s list, --sections=list
              List is a colon- or comma-separated  list  of  ‘order  specific’
              manual  sections  to search.  This option overrides the $MANSECT
              environment variable.  (The -s  spelling  is  for  compatibility
              with System V.)

       -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 sub-extension 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.

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

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

       -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.

       -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.

   Controlling formatted output
       -P pager, --pager=pager
              Specify  which  output pager to use.  By default, man uses pager
              -s.  This option overrides the $MANPAGER  environment  variable,
              which  in turn overrides the $PAGER environment variable.  It 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.

       -E encoding, --encoding=encoding
              Generate output for a character encoding other than the default.
              For backward compatibility, encoding may be an nroff device such
              as ascii, latin1, or utf8 as well as a true  character  encoding
              such as UTF-8.

       -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

       -t, --troff
              Use  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.

       -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.

       -X[dpi], --gxditview[=dpi]
              This option displays the output of groff in a  graphical  window
              using the gxditview program.  The dpi (dots per inch) may be 75,
              75-12, 100, or 100-12, defaulting to 75; the -12 variants use  a
              12-point  base  font.   This  option  implies  -T  with the X75,
              X75-12, X100, or X100-12 device respectively.

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

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

       -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.

              The  contents of $MANROFFOPT are added to the command line every
              time man invokes the formatter (nroff, troff, or groff).

              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.

              If $MANPAGER or $PAGER is set ($MANPAGER is used in preference),
              its value is used as the name of the program used to display the
              manual page.  By default, 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  if  it  had
              been specified as the argument to the -m option.

       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.

              Normally, when output is not being directed to a terminal  (such
              as  to a file or a pipe), formatting characters are discarded to
              make it  easier  to  read  the  result  without  special  tools.
              However,  if $MAN_KEEP_FORMATTING is set to any non-empty value,
              these formatting characters are retained.  This  may  be  useful
              for   wrappers   around   man   that  can  interpret  formatting

              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 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.