whatis - display one-line manual page descriptions
] [-s list
[,...]] [-M path
] [-C file
Each manual page has a short description available within it. whatis
searches the manual page names and displays the manual page descriptions of
may contain wildcards (-w
) or be a regular expression
). Using these options, it may be necessary to quote the name
or escape (\) the special characters to stop the shell from interpreting them.
databases are used during the search, and are updated by the
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
database, issue the command:
whatis -M manpath -w '*' | sort > manpath/whatis
is a manual page hierarchy such as /usr/man
- -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
- -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,
- 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.
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
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
- -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
- -C file, --config-file=file
- Use this user configuration file rather than the default of
- -?, --help
- Print a help message and exit.
- Print a short usage message and exit.
- -V, --version
- Display version information.
- Successful program execution.
- Usage, syntax or configuration file error.
- Operational error.
- Nothing was found that matched the criteria specified.
- If $SYSTEM is set, it will have the same effect as
if it had been specified as the argument to the -m option.
- If $MANPATH is set, its value is interpreted as the
colon-delimited manual page hierarchy search path to use.
- 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 the value of $COLUMNS, an
ioctl(2) if available, or falling back to 80 characters if all else
- A traditional global index database cache.
- An FHS compliant global index database cache.
- A traditional whatis text database.
Fabrizio Polacco (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Colin Watson (email@example.com).