man -- display reference manual pages


man [ -a | -f ] [ -bcw ] [ -d dir ] [ -p pager ] [ -t proc ] [ -T term ] [ section ] title

man -e command ...

man -k keyword ...


man locates and prints the entry named title from the designated reference section. For historical reasons, ``page'' is often used as a synonym for ``entry'' in this context.

Since UNIX commands are given in lowercase, the title is almost always entered in lowercase. If no section is specified, the whole guide is searched for title and the first occurrence of it is printed. You can search for a group of sections by separating the section names with colons (:) on the command line.

There are instances where title contains mixed upper and lowercase letters. The Intro pages are one such example. Others are to be found in sections covering internal routines such as (S).

man prints a usage message if invoked without any options or arguments.

man understands the following options:

ALL mode. Incompatible with -f option. Display all manual pages with matching titles. This option is equivalent to specifying MODE=ALL in /etc/default/man.

Leave blank lines in output. Entries are normally padded with blank lines for line printer purposes; without this option, man filters out excess blank lines and does not display more than 2 consecutive blank lines.

Invoke col(C) if the display does not support character formatting. Note that col is invoked automatically by man unless the terminal (defined by -T term) is one of the following: 300, 300s, 450, 37, 4000a, 382, 4014, tek, 1620, or X.

-d dir
Specify directory dir to be added to the search path for entries. You can specify several directories to be searched by separating the directory names with colons (:) on the command line.

-e command ...
Attempt to locate and display the names and short descriptions of manual pages related to the given commands. The commands may be separated by commas, or by spaces if the list is enclosed in quotes. The full name of command must be given; however, man is insensitive to its case.

man -e is equivalent to the whatis(C) command.

FIRST mode. Display only the first matching title. Incompatible with -a option. This option is equivalent to specifying MODE=FIRST in /etc/default/man.

-k keyword ...
Output the name and short description of each manual page that has at least one of the specified keywords in its short description. The search is insensitive to case, and matches on parts of words. For example, a search for the keyword ``compile'' will match on ``Compiler''. The keywords may be separated by commas, or by spaces if the list is enclosed in quotes.

man -k is equivalent to the apropos(C) command.

-p pager
Select a paging program pager to display the entry. Paging systems such as more(C), pg(C), cat(C), or any custom pagers that you may have are valid arguments for this option.

The default pager, pg, set in /etc/default/man, may be overridden by setting the environment variable PAGER to the name of a suitable paging program. The pager defined by -p overrides both of these.

-t proc
Indicate that if an unprocessed manual page is available, it is to be passed to proc for formatting. proc can be any command script in /usr/man/bin or an absolute filename of a text processing program elsewhere on the system.

-T term
Format the entry and pass the given term value to the processing program, then print it on the standard output (usually, the terminal), where term is the terminal type (see term(M) and the explanation below).

Print on the standard output only the pathnames of the entries.

Section names

The names and general descriptions of manual page sections include:

System administration commands

User commands

File formats

Hardware dependent features


SCO Visual Tcl(TM) commands
You will only have access to the Development System, device driver, and networking manual pages if you have installed these software products on your system.

You can add new manual page sections in the /usr/man directory hierarchy. For example, you could use the directory /usr/man/man.LOCAL to hold manual pages that are local to your system.

NOTE: Beginning with SCO OpenServer Release 5.0.7, it is possible to install manual pages into numbered sections. Some Optional Services software packages do so. Numbered manual page sections include:

Unrestricted commands, which can be run by any user

Administrative commands, whose options may be fully or partially restricted to the root or owner accounts

System calls

Library routines

System files


Device drivers and driver interfaces

Directory structure

The HTML files for SCO-supplied manual pages are located in the /usr/man/html.section directory hierarchy.

The /usr/man/index file lists the manual page names, subsidiary entries, and the file where they are described. The format of this file is described on the index(F) manual page.

The /usr/man/whatis file is a database of keywords used by the whatis and apropos commands, and created using makewhatis(ADM). The format of this file is described on the whatis(F) manual page.

Any traditional-format manual page sections that you install should be placed in the /usr/man/ directory hierarchy. Such manual page sections traditionally have two directories in /usr/man. These directories are called man.section and cat.section where section is the mnemonic name of the manual page section. For example, the LOCAL manual section would comprise the two directories:

unprocessed source text

printable processed output
If a manual page title is requested, man checks both directories. The most recent copy of the manual page is used as the current copy. If the most recent title is in the source text directory and it is processed by the default processor with the default terminal type, a display copy of the output is placed in the cat directory for future use. Note that a file that must be processed takes longer to appear on the screen than a display copy.

Default man settings

The file /etc/default/man contains the default settings for the man utility. The following variables are set in /etc/default/man:

Sets the HTML renderer used by usr/bin/html2ascii; see the comments in this file concerning rendering options for HTML man pages. This variable does not affect man pages accessed through DocView and Internet browsers.

Changes or augments the path man searches for entries. man looks for the specified manual page title in the section directories in the order specified by MANPATH.

Multiple directories set with this variable must be delimited by colon characters (:). If the MANPATH environment variable is present, the directories are searched in the order that they appear. The entry scohelp must appear in the MANPATH list for the SCO-supplied manual pages to be included in the search path.

Alternate subdirectories are expected to have the same hierarchical structure as the default directories in /usr/lib/scohelp/man or the traditional directory structure under /usr/man.

The TCP port number for the remote manual page server. Normally set to 8080. Not used if the manual page server is the local machine.

Defines the name of the host machine that is serving manual pages using scohttp. If set to localhost, man uses a UNIX domain socket connection to the scohttpd daemon on the local machine.

If MANSERVER specifies a remote manual page server which either does not respond or which cannot find the requested manual page, man looks for the manual page in the /usr/man directory hierarchy on the local machine.

Specifies a temporary file to be used to establish a UNIX domain socket connection to the scohttpd daemon.

If set to ALL, display all matching manual pages. If set to FIRST, display only the first matching title. May be overridden using the -a and -f options.

Specifies the order in which to search the manual page sections for a specified manual page title if a section is not also specified.

Specifies the paging program to be used. May be overridden using the -p option.

Specifies the terminal type on which output is to be printed. May be overridden using the -T option.
The following default entries appear in /etc/default/man:
You can select a different paging system, search path, terminal type, search order, mode, processor, and HTML renderer for the man system by changing the information in this file.

Values for ORDER and MANPATH variables can be edited by during package installation; in typical installations, the default values are augmented.

To change the search order for manual page sections, edit the list following the ORDER variable. Be certain the section names are separated with colons (:). Section names not present in ORDER are searched in arbitrary order after those specified in /etc/default/man.

Environment variables

If set, the following environment variables override the default values defined in /etc/default/man:






See the ``Default man settings'' section for the definitions of these variables.

Creating new manual page entries

Follow these steps to make new manual pages (created using troff) available to users.

NOTE: By default, troff and related text-processing software is not installed with SCO OpenServer. However, troff, nroff, groff, and related tools can be added to your system as part of the separately-installable GNU Development Tools package.

  1. Log in as root.

  2. Place the file containing the new manual page in the /usr/man/man.section directory structure.

  3. If desired, use the command chmod 444 filename to make the file readable (but not writable) by all users.
Once you have performed these steps, any user can view the new page in the same manner as any other manual page.

Additionally, you can create your own custom sections by creating another manual directory and putting it in the MANPATH. For example, if subdirectories man.XXXX and cat.XXXX are present, then man recognizes that ``XXXX'' is a valid manual page section.

If you wish to specify a program to process your custom manual pages, use the -tproc flag of man. proc can be any shell script in /usr/man/bin. To place a copy of the manual page in the cat directory, use the tee(C) command to send the output to a file, as well as to the standard output.

Your command should have the form:

man -tproc filename | tee pathname

In the above example, proc is the text processing script, filename is the manual page source file, and pathname is the path of the directory for the cat-able output.

If you wish to create a manual page section in HTML format, follow these rules:

Creating index and whatis files

man uses a manual page index to locate multiple commands that are listed on the same page as well as commands that have pages in several different sections. The whatis and apropos commands use the whatis keyword database to give you a short description of a command or to search for a manual page relating to a particular topic.

See the makewhatis(ADM) manual page for information on reindexing to include new manual pages.


The entries in some equations and tables may be either lost or approximated as they cannot be reproduced exactly online.


manual pages in HTML

database of manual page names and sections

database of keywords

See also

apropos(C), environ(M), index(F), makewhatis(ADM), term(M), whatis(C), whatis(F)

``Using DocView''

Standards conformance

man is conformant with:

ISO/IEC DIS 9945-2:1992, Information technology - Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX) - Part 2: Shell and Utilities (IEEE Std 1003.2-1992);
X/Open CAE Specification, Commands and Utilities, Issue 4, 1992.

© 2003 Caldera International, Inc. All rights reserved.
SCO OpenServer Release 5.0.7 -- 11 February 2003