xman - Manual page display program for the X Window System


xman [ -options ... ]


Xman is a manual page browser. The default size of the initial xman window is small so that you can leave it running throughout your entire login session. In the initial window there are three options: Help will pop up a window with on-line help, Quit will exit, and Manual Page will pop up a window with a manual page browser in it. Typing Control-S will pop up a window prompting for a specific manual page to display. You may display more than one manual page browser window at a time from a single execution of xman.

For further information on using xman, please read the on-line help information. Most of this manual will discuss customization of xman.


Xman supports all standard Toolkit command line arguments (see X(1)). The following additional arguments are supported.

-helpfile filename Specifies a helpfile to use other than the default.
-bothshown Allows both the manual page and manual directory to be on the screen at the same time.
-notopbox Starts without the Top Menu with the three buttons in it.
-geometry WxH+X+Y Sets the size and location of the Top Menu with the three buttons in it.
-pagesize WxH+X+Y Sets the size and location of all the Manual Pages.


Xman allows customization of both the directories to be searched for manual pages, and the name that each directory will map to in the Sections menu. Xman determines which directories it will search by reading the MANPATH environment variable. If no MANPATH is found then the directory is /usr/man is searched on POSIX systems. This environment is expected to be a colon-separated list of directories for xman to search.

setenv MANPATH /mit/kit/man:/usr/man

By default, xman will search each of the following directories (in each of the directories specified in the users MANPATH) for manual pages. If manual pages exist in that directory then they are added to list of manual pages for the corresponding menu item. A menu item is only displayed for those sections that actually contain manual pages.

Directory      Section Name ---------      ------------ man1           (1) User Commands man2           (2) System Calls man3           (3) Subroutines man4           (4) Devices man5           (5) File Formats man6           (6) Games man7           (7) Miscellaneous man8           (8) Sys. Administration manl           (l) Local mann           (n) New mano           (o) Old

For instance, a user has three directories in her manual path and each contain a directory called man3. All these manual pages will appear alphabetically sorted when the user selects the menu item called (3) Subroutines. If there is no directory called mano in any of the directories in her MANPATH, or there are no manual pages in any of the directories called mano then no menu item will be displayed for the section called (o) Old.


In newer BSD and Linux systems, Xman will search for a file named /etc/man.conf which will contain the list of directories containing manual pages. See man.conf(5) for a complete description of the file format.


By using the mandesc file a user or system manager is able to more closely control which manual pages will appear in each of the sections represented by menu items in the Sections menu. This functionality is only available on a section by section basis, and individual manual pages may not be handled in this manner. (Although generous use of symbolic links — see ln(1) — will allow almost any configuration you can imagine.)

The format of the mandesc file is a character followed by a label. The character determines which of the sections will be added under this label. For instance suppose that you would like to create an extra menu item that contains all programmer subroutines. This label should contain all manual pages in both sections two and three. The mandesc file would look like this: 2Programmer Subroutines 3Programmer Subroutines

This will add a menu item to the Sections menu that would bring up a listing of all manual pages in sections two and three of the Programmers Manual. Since the label names are exactly the same they will be added to the same section. Note, however, that the original sections still exist.

If you want to completely ignore the default sections in a manual directory then add the line:

no default sections

anywhere in your mandesc file. This keeps xman from searching the default manual sections In that directory only. As an example, suppose you want to do the same thing as above, but you don’t think that it is useful to have the System Calls or Subroutines sections any longer. You would need to duplicate the default entries, as well as adding your new one.

no default sections 1(1) User Commands 2Programmer Subroutines 3Programmer Subroutines 4(4) Devices 5(5) File Formats 6(6) Games 7(7) Miscellaneous 8(8) Sys. Administration l(l) Local n(n) New o(o) Old

Xman will read any section that is of the from man<character>, where <character> is an upper or lower case letter (they are treated distinctly) or a numeral (0-9). Be warned, however, that man(1) and catman(8) will not search directories that are non-standard.


In order to specify resources, it is useful to know the hierarchy of the widgets which compose xman. In the notation below, indentation indicates hierarchical structure. The widget class name is given first, followed by the widget instance name.

Xman xman (This widget is never used)      TopLevelShell topBox           Form form                Label topLabel                Command helpButton                Command quitButton                Command manpageButton           TransientShell search                DialogWidgetClass dialog                     Label label                     Text value                     Command manualPage                     Command apropos                     Command cancel           TransientShell pleaseStandBy                Label label      TopLevelShell manualBrowser           Paned Manpage_Vpane                Paned horizPane                     MenuButton options                     MenuButton sections                     Label manualBrowser                Viewport directory                     List directory                     List directory                     .                     . (one for each section,                     . created on the fly)                     .                ScrollByLine manualPage           SimpleMenu optionMenu                SmeBSB displayDirectory                SmeBSB displayManualPage                SmeBSB help                SmeBSB search                SmeBSB showBothScreens                SmeBSB removeThisManpage                SmeBSB openNewManpage                SmeBSB showVersion                SmeBSB quit           SimpleMenu sectionMenu                SmeBSB <name of section>                     .                     . (one for each section)                     .           TransientShell search                DialogWidgetClass dialog                     Label label                     Text value                     Command manualPage                     Command apropos                     Command cancel           TransientShell pleaseStandBy                Label label           TransientShell likeToSave                Dialog dialog                     Label label                     Text value                     Command yes                     Command no      TopLevelShell help           Paned Manpage_Vpane                Paned horizPane                     MenuButton options                     MenuButton sections                     Label manualBrowser                ScrollByLine manualPage           SimpleMenu optionMenu                SmeBSB displayDirectory                SmeBSB displayManualPage                SmeBSB help                SmeBSB search                SmeBSB showBothScreens                SmeBSB removeThisManpage                SmeBSB openNewManpage                SmeBSB showVersion                SmeBSB quit


xman has the following application-specific resources which allow customizations unique to xman.

manualFontNormal (Class Font)
 The font to use for normal text in the manual pages.
manualFontBold (Class Font)
 The font to use for bold text in the manual pages.
manualFontItalic (Class Font)
 The font to use for italic text in the manual pages.
directoryFontNormal (Class Font)
 The font to use for the directory text.
bothShown (Class Boolean)
 Either ‘true’ or ‘false,’ specifies whether or not you want both the directory and the manual page shown at start up.
directoryHeight (Class DirectoryHeight)
 The height in pixels of the directory, when the directory and the manual page are shown simultaneously.
topCursor (Class Cursor)
 The cursor to use in the top box.
helpCursor (Class Cursor)
 The cursor to use in the help window.
manpageCursor (Class Cursor)
 The cursor to use in the manual page window.
searchEntryCursor (Class Cursor)
 The cursor to use in the search entry text widget.
pointerColor (Class Foreground)
 This is the color of all the cursors (pointers) specified above. The name was chosen to be compatible with xterm.
helpFile (Class File)
 Use this rather than the system default helpfile.
topBox (Class Boolean)
 Either ‘true’ or ‘false,’ determines whether the top box (containing the help, quit and manual page buttons) or a manual page is put on the screen at start-up. The default is true.
verticalList (Class Boolean)
 Either ‘true’ or ‘false,’ determines whether the directory listing is vertically or horizontally organized. The default is horizontal (false).


Xman defines all user interaction through global actions. This allows the user to modify the translation table of any widget, and bind any event to the new user action. The list of actions supported by xman are:
GotoPage(page) When used in a manual page display window this will allow the user to move between a directory and manual page display. The page argument can be either Directory or ManualPage.
Quit() This action may be used anywhere, and will exit xman.
Search(type, action)
 Only useful when used in a search popup, this action will cause the search widget to perform the named search type on the string in the search popup’s value widget. This action will also pop down the search widget. The type argument can be either Apropos, Manpage or Cancel. If an action of Open is specified then xman will open a new manual page to display the results of the search, otherwise xman will attempt to display the results in the parent of the search popup.
PopupHelp() This action may be used anywhere, and will popup the help widget.
PopupSearch() This action may be used anywhere except in a help window. It will cause the search popup to become active and visible on the screen, allowing the user search for a manual page.
 This action may be used anywhere, and will create a new manual page display window.
 This action may be used in any manual page or help display window. When called it will remove the window, and clean up all resources associated with it.
 This action can only be used in the likeToSave popup widget, and tells xman whether to Save or Cancel a save of the manual page that has just been formatted.
ShowVersion() This action may be called from any manual page or help display window, and will cause the informational display line to show the current version of xman.


<manpath directory>/man<character>
<manpath directory>/cat<character>
<manpath directory>/mandesc
/usr/share/X11/app-defaults/Xman specifies required resources.
/tmp Xman creates temporary files in /tmp for all unformatted man pages and all apropos searches.


X(7), man(1), apropos(1), catman(8), Athena Widget Set


DISPLAY the default host and display to use.
MANPATH the search path for manual pages. Directories are separated by colons (e.g. /usr/man:/mit/kit/man:/foo/bar/man).
XENVIRONMENT to get the name of a resource file that overrides the global resources stored in the RESOURCE_MANAGER property.
XAPPLRESDIR A string that will have ‘‘Xman’’ appended to it. This string will be the full path name of a user app-defaults file to be merged into the resource database after the system app-defaults file, and before the resources that are attached to the display. See X(7) for a full statement of rights and permissions.


Chris Peterson, MIT X Consortium from the V10 version written by Barry Shein formerly of Boston University. Bug fixes and Linux support by Carlos A M dos Santos, for The XFree86 Project.

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