Manual pages are the most common UNIX online documentation format.


Screen dump

You can see all the manual pages on your system by setting the MANPATH environment variable (and running Java 5). Here are some sample pages that don't require configuration of the MANPATH.


Man pages are used for documentation on all flavors of UNIX including Linux. Manual pages are useful on non-UNIX systems, as UNIX-trained hackers forced to develop on Windoze like to try to establish a livable working environment with shells and tools from UNIX.

The manual page source (roff commands) is interpreted for the highest quality display, in contrast to the standard man command which renders the page in ASCII for a tty terminal. (In fact, you can delete the formatted versions of your man pages in ..../man/catN directories.)


Manual page don't have explicit hyperlinks, but likely references to other man pages are made into hyperlinks. Any word can be treated as a man page reference by clicking the alternative mouse button over the word. References to pages that don't exist are given an overstrike, so you don't click on one only to discover that it doesn't exist.

Volume listings are also available, single volume or all, also in a convenient outline form to reduce scrolling. Volume lists can be annotated. For instance, highlight your most-used manual pages, so that they are Notemarks that override collapsed outline sections and therefore can be directly clicked on and viewed.

Of course, it takes advantage of Multivalent system: annotation, bookmarking, searching, history, date last modified, ....

Manual pages and the various volume lists are available from other documents with a simple HTML A tag with the protocol set to manualpage or manpage, or programmatically with an openDocument semantic event. For example, manualpage:ls(1), which searches for ls in any volume; manpage:ascii.5, which searches for ascii in volume 5 only; manpagevol:ALL, which displays the full list of pages. If there are multiple man pages with the same name, a list of links of all matches is given.

TkMan iconMultivalent Comparison with TkMan

The Multivalent Browser replaces dedicated manual page browsers such as xman and even TkMan. (TkMan still works great and is available for free.)

The specialized capabilities of TkMan have / are being / can be translated into generalized Multivalent behaviors. The Multivalent manual page module has not had anywhere near the same amount of work invested, but since it relies on functionality provided by the rest of the system, it didn't need to. For instance, TkMan's highlight is just one of many Multivalent annotation styles, and TkMan's manual page filter is just one of many Multivalent media adaptors.

Clearly better in the Multivalent man page reader:

These features come for free, from operating within the Multivalent framework:

These didn't prove to be useful, and are dropped:

These would be too painful to continue to support:

Still to go:

System-specific Notes

If you report a missing macro, be sure to supply its definition too!


It works great for most pages. It is not a complete roff interpreter, however, and there are some commands that will be unfamiliar. It does not presently support tables, which are actually relatively rarely used, nor equations (eqn macros), which are hardly ever used, nor registers, which are just plain esoteric. Tables are problematic because different macro sets have different table schemes, but I plan to implement the one defined by GNU tbl.

To do:

See Also

Related work:

Last update: $Date: 2001/12/16 20:48:14 $