Linux / Unix: View Overlapping Man Page With Same Names
I am a new Unix / Linux user. I am using whatis command to find man pages. But, I noticed that some man pages have a common names. For example, when I run whatis printf:
printf (1) - format and print data printf (1p) - write formatted output printf (3) - formatted output conversion printf (3p) - print formatted output printf [builtins] (1) - bash built-in commands, see bash(1)
How do I access overlapping man pages and what is the meaning of (1), (1p), (3), and so on?
[donotprint][/donotprint]All man pages are divided into sections. Usually, Linux or Unix-like operating systems has eight or nine sections. Each man page arise in only one section. The standard sections of the manual include (taken from my CentOS 6.x server):
Section #1 : User Commands
Section #2 : System Calls
Section #3 : C Library Functions
Section #4 : Devices and Special Files
Section #5 : File Formats and Conventions
Section #6 : Games et. Al.
Section #7 : Miscellanea
Section #8 : System Administration tools and Deamons
Many Linux distributions and other Unix variants customize the manual section to their specifics, which often include additional sections. For example, section #9 may include kernel internals and more.
What is the meaning of number in parentheses after the command?
It’s the section of the manual the man page is in. For example, useradd(8) means:
useradd – Name of the command.
8 – The section (“System Administration tools and Deamons”) where the command is documented.
For example, ls(1) means:
ls – Name of the command.
1 – The section (“user commands”) where the command is documented.
Syntax: Viewing man pages
There are manual pages by the same name in different sections, referring to different things. The syntax is:
man section page-to-view
man section page-to-view
To read printf(1) command manual that format and print data, enter: $ man 1 printf To read printf(3) programmers printf() manual, enter: $ man 3 printf
Finding what function a command or API performs
Type the following to looks up a given command, system call, library function, or special file name, as specified by the command parameter:
ls (1) - list directory contents
ls (1p) - list directory contents
The 1p and 3p refer to sections letters as follows (taken from my IBM AIX Unix server):
C Specifies commands (including system management commands).
F Specifies file-type manual pages.
L Specifies library functions.
n Specifies new.
l Specifies local.
o Specifies old.
p Specifies public.
Please note that p section letter as in ls(1p) on GNU based systems indicates that you are viewing “POSIX Programmerâ€™s Manual”. For more information see the following man page: man OR man 1 man
The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.