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NAME

       whatis - display manual page descriptions

SYNOPSIS

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

DESCRIPTION

       Each manual page has a short description available within  it.   whatis
       searches   the   manual   page  names  and  displays  the  manual  page
       descriptions of any name matched.

       name may contain wildcards (-w) or be a regular expression (-r).  Using
       these  options, it may be necessary to quote the name or escape (\) the
       special characters to stop the shell from interpreting them.

       index databases are used during the search,  and  are  updated  by  the
       mandb  program.   Depending  on your installation, this may be run by a
       periodic cron job, or may need to be  run  manually  after  new  manual
       pages  have  been  installed.   To  produce  an  old  style text whatis
       database from the relative index database, issue the command:

       whatis -M manpath -w '*' | sort > manpath/whatis

       where manpath is a manual page hierarchy such as /usr/man.

OPTIONS

       -d, --debug
              Print debugging information.

       -v, --verbose
              Print verbose warning messages.

       -r, --regex
              Interpret each name as a regular expression.  If a name  matches
              any  part  of  a  page  name, a match will be made.  This option
              causes whatis to  be  somewhat  slower  due  to  the  nature  of
              database searches.

       -w, --wildcard
              Interpret   each  name  as  a  pattern  containing  shell  style
              wildcards.  For a match to be made, an expanded name must  match
              the  entire page name.  This option causes whatis to be somewhat
              slower due to the nature of database searches.

       -l, --long
              Do not trim output to the terminal width.  Normally, output will
              be  truncated  to  the terminal width to avoid ugly results from
              poorly-written NAME sections.

       -s list, --sections list, --section list
              Search only the given manual sections.   list  is  a  colon-  or
              comma-separated  list  of  sections.   If  an entry in list is a
              simple section, for example "3",  then  the  displayed  list  of
              descriptions  will include pages in sections "3", "3perl", "3x",
              and so on; while if an entry  in  list  has  an  extension,  for
              example  "3perl",  then the list will only include pages in that
              exact part of the manual section.

       -m system[,...], --systems=system[,...]
              If this system has access to  other  operating  system's  manual
              page  names,  they can be accessed using this option.  To search
              NewOS's manual page names, 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 page names, include  the  system  name
              man  in  the  argument  string.   This  option will override the
              $SYSTEM environment variable.

       -M path, --manpath=path
              Specify  an  alternate  set  of  colon-delimited   manual   page
              hierarchies  to  search.   By  default, whatis uses the $MANPATH
              environment variable, unless it is empty or unset, in which case
              it  will  determine  an  appropriate manpath based on your $PATH
              environment variable.  This option  overrides  the  contents  of
              $MANPATH.

       -L locale, --locale=locale
              whatis  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 whatis.  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.

       -C file, --config-file=file
              Use this user configuration file  rather  than  the  default  of
              ~/.manpath.

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

       -V, --version
              Display version information.

EXIT STATUS

       0      Successful program execution.

       1      Usage, syntax or configuration file error.

       2      Operational error.

       16     Nothing was found that matched the criteria specified.

ENVIRONMENT

       SYSTEM If  $SYSTEM  is  set,  it will have the same effect as if it had
              been specified as the argument to the -m option.

       MANPATH
              If $MANPATH is set, its  value  is  interpreted  as  the  colon-
              delimited manual page hierarchy search path to use.

       MANWIDTH
              If  $MANWIDTH  is  set,  its value is used as the terminal width
              (see the --long option).  If it is not set, the  terminal  width
              will  be calculated using an ioctl(2) if available, the value of
              $COLUMNS, or falling back to 80 characters if all else fails.

FILES

       /usr/share/man/index.(bt|db|dir|pag)
              A traditional global index database cache.

       /var/cache/man/index.(bt|db|dir|pag)
              An FHS compliant global index database cache.

       /usr/share/man/.../whatis
              A traditional whatis text database.

SEE ALSO

       apropos(1), man(1), mandb(8).

AUTHOR

       Wilf. (G.Wilford@ee.surrey.ac.uk).
       Fabrizio Polacco (fpolacco@debian.org).
       Colin Watson (cjwatson@debian.org).