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Configuring apropos and whatis - (The windex file)

by Jeff Hunter, Sr. Database Administrator


Many UNIX users are familiar with the apropos and whatis commands.

The whatis command is used to display a one-line summary about a keyword as in the following example:

# whatis scsi
scsi            scsi (4)        - configuration files for SCSI target drivers

The apropos command is used to locate commands by keyword lookup. The apropos utility displays the man page name, section number, and a short description for each man page whose NAME line contains keyword as in the following example:

# apropos IDE
dad             dad (7d)        - driver for IDE disk devices
uata            uata (7d)       - IDE Host Bus Adapter Driver

Creating /usr/share/man/windex

Before using either the apropos, whatis, or make -k commands, it is necessary to create the system generated index file: /usr/share/man/windex. Failing to have this file generated will result in the following error when attempting to use any of the above commands:
# apropos IDE
/usr/share/man/windex: No such file or directory

To create the /usr/share/man/windex, use the catman, as in the following example:

# /usr/bin/catman -w
This utility will search the MANPATH and create the windex file. If you would like to specify which directories yourself, you can use the -M switch.

Last modified on: Saturday, 18-Sep-2010 18:23:22 EDT
Page Count: 16412