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Reading UNIX Man Pages

  Lionel Cons CN/DCI

The UNIX on-line reference manuals (often called man pages) are a very useful source of information. Most UNIX commands, system calls, subroutines, libraries, files, etc. are documented this way. To access them, you usually use the command named man that is provided by the system. Unfortunately, different systems bring different man commands with different features, bugs, options, behaviour...

A public domain package named man_db and written by Graeme W. Wilford can be used to replace all the commands of the man suite. This package has been installed on asis and is available to any machine using asis (including hpplus or cernsp).

The main commands of this package are man (mainly to display a manual) and apropos (to search by keywords). They are known in asis under the names gman and gapropos to avoid conflicts with the system commands.

On ASIS, these programs are in fact installed in /usr/local/bin/gnu with their normal name and under /usr/local/bin with a "g" prefix, for instance the command gman, which is in /usr/local/bin, is the same one as the command /usr/local/bin/gnu/man.

The commands from man_db are more powerful then their system equivalents (and of course consistent across different systems) so you should use them whenever possible.

Note that the Standardized UNIX Environment (SUE, used on hundreds of machines at CERN, including hpplus and cernsp) adds some links in /usr/sue/bin so that the commands of the man_db package are available with their ``normal'' name and are used in place of their system equivalents. For instance, on hpplus, when you type man you use the command from the man_db package and not the system one.

For more information on:

UNIX man pages ...
man_db ...........
ASIS .............
SUE ..............

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Next: Anonymous ftp access using Up: Desktop Computing Previous: Changing X Fonts

Michel Goossens
CN Division
Tel. 3363
Sun Jun 2 15:38:07 METDST 1996