Go to main content

man pages section 1: User Commands

Exit Print View

Updated: Wednesday, February 9, 2022

groffer (1)


groffer - display groff files and man pages on X and tty


groffer [--] [filespec ....]

groffer [mode-option ....]  [groff-options ....]  [man-options ....]
[X-options ....]  [--] [filespec ....]

groffer -h | --help

groffer -v | --version


GROFFER(1)                  General Commands Manual                 GROFFER(1)

       groffer - display groff files and man pages on X and tty

       groffer [--] [filespec ....]

       groffer [mode-option ....]  [groff-options ....]  [man-options ....]
               [X-options ....]  [--] [filespec ....]

       groffer -h | --help

       groffer -v | --version

       The groffer program is the easiest way to use groff(1).  It can display
       arbitrary  documents  written  in  the groff language, see groff(7), or
       other roff languages, see roff(7), that are compatible to the  original
       troff  language.   It finds and runs all necessary groff preprocessors,
       such as chem.

       The groffer program also includes many of the features for finding  and
       displaying  the Unix manual pages (man pages), such that it can be used
       as a replacement for a man(1) program.  Moreover, compressed files that
       can be handled by gzip(1) or bzip2(1) are decompressed on-the-fly.

       The  normal usage is quite simple by supplying a file name or name of a
       man page without further options.  But the  option  handling  has  many
       possibilities  for creating special behaviors.  This can be done either
       in  configuration  files,   with   the   shell   environment   variable
       $GROFFER_OPT, or on the command line.

       The output can be generated and viewed in several different ways avail-
       able for groff.   This  includes  the  groff  native  X  Window  viewer
       gxditview(1), each Postcript, pdf, or dvi display program, a web brows-
       er by generating html in www mode, or several text modes in text termi-

       Most  of the options that must be named when running groff directly are
       determined automatically for groffer, due to the internal usage of  the
       grog(1)  program.  But all parts can also be controlled manually by ar-

       Several file names can be specified  on  the  command  line  arguments.
       They are transformed into a single document in the normal way of groff.

       Option  handling  is  done in GNU style.  Options and file names can be
       mixed freely.  The option `--' closes the option handling, all  follow-
       ing  arguments are treated as file names.  Long options can be abbrevi-
       ated in several ways.

       breaking options

               [-h | --help] [-v | --version]

       groffer mode options

               [--auto] [--default] [--default-modes mode1,mode2,....]
               [--dvi] [--groff] [--html] [--latin1] [--mode display_mode]
               [--pdf] [--pdf2] [--ps] [--source] [--text] [--to-stdout]
               [--tty] [--utf8] [--viewer prog] [--www] [--x | --X]

       options related to groff

               [-T | --device device] [-Z | --intermediate-output | --ditroff]

              All further groff short options are accepted.

       options for man pages

               [--apropos] [--apropos-data] [--apropos-devel]
               [--apropos-progs] [--man] [--no-man] [--no-special] [--whatis]

       long options taken over from GNU man

               [--all] [--ascii] [--ditroff] [--extension suffix]
               [--locale language] [--local-file] [--location | --where]
               [--manpath dir1:dir2:....]  [--no-location] [--pager program]
               [--sections sec1:sec2:....]  [--systems sys1,sys2,....]
               [--troff-device device]

              Further long options of GNU man are accepted as well.

       X Window Toolkit options

               [--bd | --bordercolor pixels] [--bg | --background color]
               [--bw | --borderwidth pixels] [--display X-display]
               [--fg | --foreground color] [--fn | --ft | --font font_name]
               [--geometry size_pos] [--resolution value] [--rv]
               [--title string] [--xrm X-resource]

       options for development

               [--debug] [--debug-filenames] [--debug-grog] [--debug-keep]
               [--debug-params] [--debug-tmpdir] [--do-nothing] [--print text]

       filespec arguments

              The filespec parameters are all arguments that  are  neither  an
              option nor an option argument.  They usually mean a file name or
              a man page searching scheme.

              In the following, the term section_extension is used.  It  means
              a  word  that  consists of a man section that is optionally fol-
              lowed by an extension.  The name of a man section  is  a  single
              character  from [1-9on], the extension is some word.  The exten-
              sion is mostly lacking.

              No filespec parameters means standard input.

              -         stands for standard input (can occur several times).

              filename  the path name of an existing file.

              section_extension name
                        search the man page name in the section with  optional
                        extension section_extension.

              man:name  man page in the lowest man section that has name.

              name      if  name  is  not  an  existing  file  search  for the
                        man page name in the lowest man section.

       The groffer program can usually be run with very few options.  But  for
       special purposes, it supports many options.  These can be classified in
       5 option classes.

       All short options of groffer are compatible with the short  options  of
       groff(1).   All  long  options  of groffer are compatible with the long
       options of man(1).

       Arguments for long option names can be  abbreviated  in  several  ways.
       First, the argument is checked whether it can be prolonged as is.  Fur-
       thermore, each minus sign - is considered as a starting point for a new
       abbreviation.  This leads to a set of multiple abbreviations for a sin-
       gle argument.  For example, --de-n-f can be used as an abbreviation for
       --debug-not-func, but --de-n works as well.  If the abbreviation of the
       argument leads to several resulting options an error is raised.

       These abbreviations  are  only  allowed  in  the  environment  variable
       $GROFFER_OPT,  but  not  in the configuration files.  In configuration,
       all long options must be exact.

   groffer breaking Options
       As soon as one of these options is found on the command line it is exe-
       cuted,  printed  to  standard output, and the running groffer is termi-
       nated thereafter.  All other arguments are ignored.

       -h | --help
              Print help information with a short explanation  of  options  to
              standard output.

       -v | --version
              Print version information to standard output.

   groffer Mode Options
       The  display  mode  and  the  viewer  programs  are determined by these
       options.  If none of these mode and viewer options is specified groffer
       tries to find a suitable display mode automatically.  The default modes
       are mode pdf, mode ps, mode html, mode x, and mode dvi in X Window with
       different  viewers and mode tty with device utf8 under less on a termi-
       nal; other modes are tested if the programs for the main  default  mode
       do not exist.

       In  X  Window,  many  programs  create  their  own  window when called.
       groffer can run these viewers as an independent program  in  the  back-
       ground.   As  this does not work in text mode on a terminal (tty) there
       must be a way to know which viewers are X  Window  graphical  programs.
       The groffer script has a small set of information on some viewer names.
       If a viewer argument of the command-line chooses  an  element  that  is
       kept  as  X  Window program in this list it is treated as a viewer that
       can run in the background.  All other, unknown viewer calls are not run
       in the background.

       For  each  mode, you are free to choose whatever viewer you want.  That
       need not be some graphical viewer suitable for this mode.  There  is  a
       chance  to  view the output source; for example, the combination of the
       options --mode=ps and --viewer=less shows the content of the Postscript
       output, the source code, with the pager less.

       --auto Equivalent to --mode=auto.

              Reset  all  configuration from previously processed command line
              options to the default values.  This is useful to wipe  out  all
              former  options  of  the  configuration,  in  $GROFFER_OPT,  and
              restart option processing using only the  rest  of  the  command

       --default-modes mode1,mode2,....
              Set  the  sequence of modes for auto mode to the comma separated
              list given in the argument.  See --mode for  details  on  modes.
              Display  in  the default manner; actually, this means to try the
              modes x, ps, and tty in this sequence.

       --dvi  Equivalent to --mode=dvi.
       --viewer prog
              Choose a viewer program for dvi mode.  This can be a  file  name
              or  a program to be searched in $PATH.  Known X Window dvi view-
              ers include xdvi(1) and dvilx(1).  In each case,  arguments  can
              be provided additionally.

              Equivalent to --mode=groff.

       --html Equivalent to --mode=html.
              Choose  a  web browser program for viewing in html mode.  It can
              be the path name of an executable file or a  program  in  $PATH.
              In each case, arguments can be provided additionally.

       --mode value
              Set the display mode.  The following mode values are recognized:

              auto   Select  the  automatic determination of the display mode.
                     The sequence of modes that are tried can be set with  the
                     --default-modes   option.    Useful   for  restoring  the
                     default mode when a different mode was specified before.

              dvi    Display formatted input in  a  dvi  viewer  program.   By
                     default,  the  formatted  input  is  displayed  with  the
                     xdvi(1) program.

              groff  After the file determination, switch groffer  to  process
                     the  input  like  groff(1)  would  do.  This disables the
                     groffer viewing features.

              html   Translate the input into  html  format  and  display  the
                     result  in  a web browser program.  By default, the exis-
                     tence of a sequence of standard web browsers  is  tested,
                     starting with konqueror(1) and mozilla(1).  The text html
                     viewer is lynx(1).

              pdf    Transform roff input files into a PDF file by  using  the
                     groff  (1) device -Tpdf.  This is the default PDF genera-
                     tor.  The generated PDF file is displayed  with  suitable
                     viewer programs, such as okular(1).

              pdf2   This  is  the  traditional pdf mode.  Sometimes this mode
                     produces more correct output than the default  PDF  mode.
                     By  default,  the  input  is formatted by groff using the
                     Postscript device, then it is transformed  into  the  PDF
                     file  format  using  gs(1),  or ps2pdf(1).  If that's not
                     possible, the  Postscript  mode  (ps)  is  used  instead.
                     Finally it is displayed using different viewer programs.

              ps     Display  formatted  input in a Postscript viewer program.
                     By default, the formatted input is displayed  in  one  of
                     many viewer programs.

              text   Format in a groff text mode and write the result to stan-
                     dard output without a pager or viewer program.  The  text
                     device, latin1 by default, can be chosen with option -T.

              tty    Format in a groff text mode and write the result to stan-
                     dard output using a text  pager  program,  even  when  in
                     X Window.

              www    Equivalent to --mode=html.

              x      Display  the formatted input in a native roff viewer.  By
                     default,  the  formatted  input  is  displayed  with  the
                     gxditview(1)  program  being  distributed  together  with
                     groff.  But the standard X Window  tool  xditview(1)  can
                     also  be  chosen  with  the option --viewer.  The default
                     resolution is 75dpi, but 100dpi are also  possible.   The
                     default  groff  device  for  the  resolution  of 75dpi is
                     X75-12, for 100dpi it is X100.  The  corresponding  groff
                     intermediate  output  for  the actual device is generated
                     and the result is displayed.  For a resolution of 100dpi,
                     the  default width of the geometry of the display program
                     is chosen to 850dpi.

              X      Equivalent to --mode=x.

              The following modes do not use  the  groffer  viewing  features.
              They are only interesting for advanced applications.

              groff  Generate device output with plain groff without using the
                     special viewing features of groffer.  If  no  device  was
                     specified by option -T the groff default ps is assumed.

              source Output  the  roff  source code of the input files without
                     further processing.

       --pdf  Equivalent to --mode=pdf.
       --pdf2 Equivalent to --mode=pdf2.
       --viewer prog
              Choose a viewer program for pdf mode.  This can be a  file  name
              or  a program to be searched in $PATH; arguments can be provided

       --ps   Equivalent to --mode=ps.
       --viewer prog
              Choose a viewer program for ps mode.  This can be a file name or
              a  program  to  be searched in $PATH.  Common Postscript viewers
              include okular(1), evince(1), gv(1), ghostview(1), and gs(1), In
              each case, arguments can be provided additionally.

              Equivalent to --mode=source.

       --text Equivalent to --mode=text.

              The  file  for  the  chosen mode is generated and its content is
              printed to standard output.  It will not be displayed in graphi-
              cal mode.

       --tty  Equivalent to --mode=tty.
       --viewer prog
              Choose  a  text  pager  for  mode  tty.   The  standard pager is
              less(1).  This option is equivalent to man option  --pager=prog.
              The  option  argument  can  be  a  file  name or a program to be
              searched in $PATH; arguments can be provided additionally.

       --www  Equivalent to --mode=html.

       --X | --x
              Equivalent to --mode=x.
       --viewer prog
              Choose a viewer program for x mode.   Suitable  viewer  programs
              are  gxditview(1)  which  is  the  default and xditview(1).  The
              argument can be any executable file or a program in $PATH; argu-
              ments can be provided additionally.

       --     Signals  the  end  of option processing; all remaining arguments
              are interpreted as filespec parameters.

       Besides these, groffer accepts all short options that are valid for the
       groff(1) program.  All non-groffer options are sent unmodified via grog
       to groff.  So postprocessors, macro packages, compatibility with  clas-
       sical troff, and much more can be manually specified.

   Options related to groff
       All  short  options of groffer are compatible with the short options of
       groff(1).  The following of groff options  have  either  an  additional
       special meaning within groffer or make sense for normal usage.

       Because  of  the  special  outputting  behavior  of the groff option -Z
       groffer was designed to be switched into groff mode; the groffer  view-
       ing features are disabled there.  The other groff options do not switch
       the mode, but allow to customize the formatting process.

       --a    This  generates  an  ascii  approximation  of  output   in   the
              text  modes.   That  could  be important when the text pager has
              problems with control sequences in tty mode.

       --m file
              Add file as a groff macro file.  This is useful in case it  can-
              not be recognized automatically.

       --P opt_or_arg
              Send  the argument opt_or_arg as an option or option argument to
              the actual groff postprocessor.

       --T devname | --device devname
              This option determines groff's output device.  The  most  impor-
              tant  devices  are  the text output devices for referring to the
              different character sets, such as ascii, utf8, latin1, utf8, and
              others.   Each  of  these  arguments  switches  groffer  into  a
              text mode using this device, to mode tty if the actual  mode  is
              not  a text mode.  The following devname arguments are mapped to
              the corresponding groffer --mode=devname option: dvi, html,  and
              ps.   All X* arguments are mapped to mode x.  Each other devname
              argument switches to mode groff using this device.

       --X    is equivalent to groff -X.  It displays the  groff  intermediate
              output  with  gxditview.   As the quality is relatively bad this
              option is deprecated; use --X instead because the x mode uses an
              X* device for a better display.

       -Z | --intermediate-output | --ditroff
              Switch  into  groff  mode  and  format  the input with the groff
              intermediate output without  postprocessing;  see  groff_out(5).
              This is equivalent to option --ditroff of man, which can be used
              as well.

       All other groff options are supported by groffer,  but  they  are  just
       transparently  transferred  to  groff  without  any  intervention.  The
       options that are not explicitly handled by  groffer  are  transparently
       passed  to  groff.   Therefore  these transparent options are not docu-
       mented here, but in groff(1).  Due to the automatism in  groffer,  none
       of these groff options should be needed, except for advanced usage.

   Options for man pages
              Start the apropos(1) command or facility of man(1) for searching
              the filespec arguments within all man page  descriptions.   Each
              filespec argument is taken for search as it is; section specific
              parts are not handled, such that 7 groff searches  for  the  two
              arguments  7  and  groff,  with a large result; for the filespec
              groff.7 nothing will be found.  The language locale  is  handled
              only  when  the called programs do support this; the GNU apropos
              and man -k do not.  The display differs from the apropos program
              by the following concepts:

              * Construct a groff frame similar to a man page to the output of

              * each filespec argument is searched on its own.

              * The restriction by --sections is handled as well,

              * wildcard characters are allowed and handled without a  further

              Show only the apropos descriptions for data documents, these are
              the man(7) sections 4, 5, and 7.   Direct  section  declarations
              are ignored, wildcards are accepted.

              Show  only  the  apropos descriptions for development documents,
              these are the man(7) sections 2, 3, and 9.  Direct section  dec-
              larations are ignored, wildcards are accepted.

              Show  only  the  apropos descriptions for documents on programs,
              these are the man(7) sections 1, 6, and 8.  Direct section  dec-
              larations are ignored, wildcards are accepted.

              For  each  filespec  argument  search  all man pages and display
              their description -- or say that it is not a man page.  This  is
              written from anew, so it differs from man's whatis output by the
              following concepts

              * each retrieved file name is added,

              * local files are handled as well,

              * the language and system locale is supported,

              * the display is framed by a groff output format  similar  to  a
                man page,

              * wildcard characters are allowed without a further option.

       The  following  options  were added to groffer for choosing whether the
       file name arguments are interpreted as names for local files  or  as  a
       search  pattern  for  man  pages.   The default is looking up for local

       --man  Check the non-option command line arguments (filespecs) first on
              being  man  pages, then whether they represent an existing file.
              By default, a filespec is first tested whether it is an existing

       --no-man | --local-file
              Do  not  check for man pages.  --local-file is the corresponding
              man option.

              Disable former calls of --all, --apropos*, and --whatis.

   Long options taken over from GNU man
       The long options of groffer were synchronized with the long options  of
       GNU  man.   All  long options of GNU man are recognized, but not all of
       these options are important to groffer, so most of them  are  just  ig-
       nored.  These ignored man options are --catman, --troff, and --update.

       In  the  following,  the  man  options  that have a special meaning for
       groffer are documented.

       If your system has GNU man installed the full set of long and short op-
       tions of the GNU man program can be passed via the environment variable
       $MANOPT; see man(1).

       --all  In searching man pages, retrieve all suitable documents  instead
              of only one.

       -7 | --ascii
              In  text  modes, display ASCII translation of special characters
              for  critical  environment.   This  is   equivalent   to   groff
              -mtty_char; see groff_tmac(5).

              Produce  groff  intermediate  output.   This  is  equivalent  to
              groffer -Z.

       --extension suffix
              Restrict man page search to file names that have suffix appended
              to  their  section  element.   For  example,  in  the  file name
              /usr/share/man/man3/terminfo.3ncurses.gz the man page  extension
              is ncurses.

       --locale language
              Set  the  language for man pages.  This has the same effect, but
              overwrites $LANG.

              Print the location of the retrieved files to standard error.

              Do not display the location of retrieved files;  this  resets  a
              former call to --location.  This was added by groffer.

       --manpath 'dir1:dir2:....'
              Use  the  specified search path for retrieving man pages instead
              of the program defaults.  If the argument is set  to  the  empty
              string "" the search for man page is disabled.

              Set the pager program in tty mode; default is less.  This can be
              set with --viewer.

       --sections sec1:sec2:....
              Restrict searching for man pages to the given sections, a colon-
              separated list.

       --systems sys1,sys2,....
              Search  for man pages for the given operating systems; the argu-
              ment systems is a comma-separated list.

              Equivalent to --location.

   X Window Toolkit Options
       The  following  long  options  were  adapted  from  the   corresponding
       X  Window Toolkit options.  groffer will pass them to the actual viewer
       program if it is an X Window program.  Otherwise these options are  ig-

       Unfortunately  these  options  use  the old style of a single minus for
       long options.  For groffer that was changed to the standard with  using
       a  double  minus for long options, for example, groffer uses the option
       --font for the X Window option -font.

       See X(7) and the documentation on the X Window Toolkit options for more
       details on these options and their arguments.

       --background color
              Set the background color of the viewer window.

       --bd pixels
              This is equivalent to --bordercolor.

       --bg color
              This is equivalent to --background.

       --bw pixels
              This is equivalent to --borderwidth.

       --bordercolor pixels
              Specifies the color of the border surrounding the viewer window.

       --borderwidth pixels
              Specifies  the  width  in  pixels  of the border surrounding the
              viewer window.

       --display X-display
              Set the X Window display on which the viewer  program  shall  be
              started,  see  the  X Window documentation for the syntax of the

       --foreground color
              Set the foreground color of the viewer window.

       --fg color
              This is equivalent to --foreground.

       --fn font_name
              This is equivalent to --font.

       --font font_name
              Set the font used by the viewer  window.   The  argument  is  an
              X Window font name.

       --ft font_name
              This is equivalent to --font.

       --geometry size_pos
              Set  the geometry of the display window, that means its size and
              its starting position.  See X(7) for the syntax of the argument.

       --resolution value
              Set X Window resolution in dpi (dots per inch)  in  some  viewer
              programs.   The only supported dpi values are 75 and 100.  Actu-
              ally, the default resolution for groffer is set to  75dpi.   The
              resolution also sets the default device in mode x.

       --rv   Reverse foreground and background color of the viewer window.

       --title 'some text'
              Set the title for the viewer window.

       --xrm 'resource'
              Set X Window resource.

   Options for Development
              Enable  all debugging options --debug-type.  The temporary files
              are kept and not deleted, the grog output is printed,  the  name
              of  the temporary directory is printed, the displayed file names
              are printed, and the parameters are printed.

              Print the names of the files and man pages that are displayed by

              Print the output of all grog commands.

              Enable two debugging informations.  Print the name of the tempo-
              rary directory and keep the temporary files, do not delete  them
              during the run of groffer.

              Print  the parameters, as obtained from the configuration files,
              from GROFFER_OPT, and the command line arguments.

              Print the name of the temporary directory.

              This is like --version, but without the  output;  no  viewer  is
              started.  This makes only sense in development.

              Just print the argument to standard error.  This is good for pa-
              rameter check.

       -V     This is an advanced option for debugging only.  Instead of  dis-
              playing  the formatted input, a lot of groffer specific informa-
              tion is printed to standard output:

              * the output file name in the temporary directory,

              * the display mode of the actual groffer run,

              * the display program for viewing the output with its arguments,

              * the active parameters from the config files, the arguments  in
                $GROFFER_OPT, and the arguments of the command line,

              * the pipeline that would be run by the groff program, but with-
                out executing it.

       Other  useful  debugging  options  are  the   groff   option   -Z   and

   Filespec Arguments
       A filespec parameter is an argument that is not an option or option ar-
       gument.  In groffer, filespec parameters are a file name or a  template
       for  searching  man  pages.  These input sources are collected and com-
       posed into a single output file such as groff does.

       The strange POSIX behavior to regard all  arguments  behind  the  first
       non-option argument as filespec arguments is ignored.  The GNU behavior
       to recognize options even when mixed with filespec  arguments  is  used
       throughout.   But,  as usual, the double minus argument -- ends the op-
       tion handling and interprets all following arguments as filespec  argu-
       ments; so the POSIX behavior can be easily adopted.

       The  options  --apropos* have a special handling of filespec arguments.
       Each argument is taken as a search scheme of its own.   Also  a  regexp
       (regular expression) can be used in the filespec.  For example, groffer
       --apropos '^gro.f$' searches groff in the man page name, while  groffer
       --apropos  groff searches groff somewhere in the name or description of
       the man pages.

       All other parts of groffer, such as the normal display  or  the  output
       with  --whatis  have  a different scheme for filespecs.  No regular ex-
       pressions are used for the arguments.  The filespec arguments are  han-
       dled by the following scheme.

       It  is  necessary  to know that on each system the man pages are sorted
       according to their content into several sections.   The  classical  man
       sections  have  a  single-character name, either a digit from 1 to 9 or
       one of the characters n or o.

       This can optionally be followed by a string, the  so-called  extension.
       The  extension  allows to store several man pages with the same name in
       the same section.  But the extension is only rarely used, usually it is
       omitted.  Then the extensions are searched automatically by alphabet.

       In  the  following,  we  use the name section_extension for a word that
       consists of a single character section name or a section character that
       is  followed  by an extension.  Each filespec parameter can have one of
       the following forms in decreasing sequence.

       * No filespec parameters means that groffer waits for  standard  input.
         The  minus  option  -  always stands for standard input; it can occur
         several times.  If you want to look up a man page called  -  use  the
         argument man:-.

       * Next  a filespec is tested whether it is the path name of an existing
         file.  Otherwise it is assumed  to  be  a  searching  pattern  for  a
         man page.

       * man:name(section_extension),              man:name.section_extension,
         name(section_extension),   or   name.section_extension   search   the
         man   page   name   in   man   section   and  possibly  extension  of

       * Now man:name searches for a man page in the lowest man  section  that
         has a document called name.

       * section_extension  name  is  a pattern of 2 arguments that originates
         from a strange argument parsing of  the  man  program.   Again,  this
         searches the man page name with section_extension, a combination of a
         section character optionally followed by an extension.

       * We are left with the argument name which is not an existing file.  So
         this  searches for the man page called name in the lowest man section
         that has a document for this name.

       Several file name arguments can be supplied.  They are mixed  by  groff
       into a single document.  Note that the set of option arguments must fit
       to all of these file arguments.  So they should have at least the  same
       style of the groff language.

       By  default, the groffer program collects all input into a single file,
       formats it with the groff program for a certain device, and then choos-
       es a suitable viewer program.  The device and viewer process in groffer
       is called a mode.  The mode and viewer of a running groffer program  is
       selected  automatically,  but the user can also choose it with options.
       The modes are selected by option the arguments of --mode=anymode.   Ad-
       ditionally,  each of this argument can be specified as an option of its
       own, such as anymode.  Most of these modes have a viewer program, which
       can be chosen by the option --viewer.

       Several  different  modes  are  offered,  graphical modes for X Window,
       text modes, and some direct groff modes for debugging and development.

       By default, groffer first  tries  whether  x  mode  is  possible,  then
       ps  mode,  and  finally  tty  mode.   This  mode  testing  sequence for
       auto mode can be changed by specifying a comma separated list of  modes
       with the option --default-modes.

       The  searching for man pages and the decompression of the input are ac-
       tive in every mode.

   Graphical Display Modes
       The graphical display modes work mostly in the X Window environment (or
       similar  implementations within other windowing environments).  The en-
       vironment variable $DISPLAY and the option --display are used for spec-
       ifying  the  X Window display to be used.  If this environment variable
       is empty groffer assumes that no X Window is running and changes  to  a
       text  mode.  You can change this automatic behavior by the option --de-

       Known viewers for  the  graphical  display  modes  and  their  standard
       X Window viewer programs are

       * in a PDF viewer (pdf mode)

       * in a web browser (html or www mode)

       * in a Postscript viewer (ps mode)

       * X Window roff viewers such as gxditview(1) or xditview(1) (in x mode)

       * in a dvi viewer program (dvi mode)

       The  pdf mode has a major advantage -- it is the only graphical display
       mode that allows to search for text within the viewer; this  can  be  a
       really  important feature.  Unfortunately, it takes some time to trans-
       form the input into the PDF format, so it was not chosen as  the  major

       These   graphical   viewers   can  be  customized  by  options  of  the
       X Window Toolkit.  But the groffer options use a leading  double  minus
       instead of the single minus used by the X Window Toolkit.

   Text modes
       There are two modes for text output, mode text for plain output without
       a pager and mode tty for a text output on a text  terminal  using  some
       pager program.

       If  the  variable $DISPLAY is not set or empty, groffer assumes that it
       should use tty mode.

       In the actual implementation, the groff output device latin1 is  chosen
       for  text  modes.   This  can  be  changed  by  specifying option -T or

       The pager to be used can be specified by one of the options --pager and
       --viewer, or by the environment variable $PAGER.  If all of this is not
       used the less(1) program with the option -r  for  correctly  displaying
       control sequences is used as the default pager.

   Special Modes for Debugging and Development
       These modes use the groffer file determination and decompression.  This
       is combined into a single input file that is fed  directly  into  groff
       with  different strategy without the groffer viewing facilities.  These
       modes are regarded as advanced, they are useful for debugging  and  de-
       velopment purposes.

       The source mode with option --source just displays the decompressed in-

       Option --to-stdout does not display in a graphical mode.  It just  gen-
       erates  the  file  for  the  chosen mode and then prints its content to
       standard output.

       The groff mode passes the input to groff using only some  suitable  op-
       tions provided to groffer.  This enables the user to save the generated
       output into a file or pipe it into another program.

       In groff mode, the option -Z disables post-processing,  thus  producing
       the  groff  intermediate output.  In this mode, the input is formatted,
       but not postprocessed; see groff_out(5) for details.

       All groff short options are supported by groffer.

       The default behavior of groffer is to first test whether a file parame-
       ter  represents a local file; if it is not an existing file name, it is
       assumed to represent the name of a man page.  The following options can
       be  used  to  determine whether the arguments should be handled as file
       name or man page arguments.

       --man  forces to interpret all file parameters as filespecs for search-
              ing man pages.

              disable the man searching; so only local files are displayed.

       If  neither a local file nor a man page was retrieved for some file pa-
       rameter a warning is issued on standard error, but processing  is  con-

   Search Algorithm
       Let us now assume that a man page should be searched.  The groffer pro-
       gram provides a search facility for man pages.  All long  options,  all
       environment  variables, and most of the functionality of the GNU man(1)
       program were implemented.  The search algorithm shall  determine  which
       file is displayed for a given man page.  The process can be modified by
       options and environment variables.

       The only man action that is omitted in  groffer  are  the  preformatted
       man  pages,  also  called cat pages.  With the excellent performance of
       the actual computers, the preformatted man pages aren't  necessary  any
       longer.  Additionally, groffer is a roff program; it wants to read roff
       source files and format them itself.

       The algorithm for retrieving the file for a man page needs first a  set
       of  directories.   This  set starts with the so-called man path that is
       modified later on by adding names of  operating  system  and  language.
       This  arising set is used for adding the section directories which con-
       tain the man page files.

       The man path is a list of directories that are separated by colon.   It
       is generated by the following methods.

       * The environment variable $MANPATH can be set.

       * It  can  be  read  from  the  arguments  of  the environment variable

       * The man path can be manually specified by using the option --manpath.
         An empty argument disables the man page searching.

       * When no man path was set the manpath(1) program is tried to determine

       * If this does not work a reasonable default path from $PATH is  deter-

       We  now  have  a  starting set of directories.  The first way to change
       this set is by adding names of operating systems.   This  assumes  that
       man pages for several operating systems are installed.  This is not al-
       ways true.  The names of such operating systems can be  provided  by  3

       * The environment variable $SYSTEM has the lowest precedence.

       * This can be overridden by an option in $MANOPT.

       * This again is overridden by the command line option --systems.

       Several  names  of  operating  systems  can be given by appending their
       names, separated by a comma.

       The man path is changed by appending each system name  as  subdirectory
       at  the end of each directory of the set.  No directory of the man path
       set is kept.  But if no system name is specified the man path  is  left

       After  this,  the  actual set of directories can be changed by language
       information.  This assumes that there exist man pages in different lan-
       guages.  The wanted language can be chosen by several methods.

       * Environment variable $LANG.

       * This is overridden by $LC_MESSAGES.

       * This is overridden by $LC_ALL.

       * This can be overridden by providing an option in $MANOPT.

       * All  these  environment  variables are overridden by the command line
         option --locale.

       The default language can be specified by specifying one of the  pseudo-
       language parameters C or POSIX.  This is like deleting a formerly given
       language information.  The man pages in the default language are usual-
       ly in English.

       Of  course,  the language name is determined by man.  In GNU man, it is
       specified in the POSIX 1003.1 based format:


       but the two-letter code in <language> is sufficient for most  purposes.
       If  for  a  complicated  language  formulation  no  man pages are found
       groffer searches the country part consisting of these first two charac-
       ters as well.

       The  actual  directory  set is copied thrice.  The language name is ap-
       pended as subdirectory to each directory in the first copy of the actu-
       al directory set (this is only done when a language information is giv-
       en).  Then the 2-letter abbreviation of the language name  is  appended
       as subdirectories to the second copy of the directory set (this is only
       done when the given language name has more than 2 letters).  The  third
       copy of the directory set is kept unchanged (if no language information
       is given this is the kept directory set).  These maximally 3 copies are
       appended to get the new directory set.

       We  now  have  a  complete set of directories to work with.  In each of
       these directories, the man files are separated in sections.   The  name
       of  a  section  is represented by a single character, a digit between 1
       and 9, or the character o or n, in this order.

       For each available section, a subdirectory man<section> exists contain-
       ing all man files for this section, where <section> is a single charac-
       ter as described before.  Each man file in a section directory has  the
       form  man<section>/<name>.<section>[<extension>][.<compression>], where
       <extension> and <compression> are optional.  <name> is the name of  the
       man  page  that  is  also specified as filespec argument on the command

       The extension is an addition to the section.  This postfix acts like  a
       subsection.   An extension occurs only in the file name, not in name of
       the section subdirectory.  It can be specified on the command line.

       On the other hand, the compression is just an information  on  how  the
       file  is  compressed.  This is not important for the user, such that it
       cannot be specified on the command line.

       There are 4 methods to specify a section on the command line:

       * Environment variable $MANSECT

       * Command line option --sections

       * Appendix to the name argument in the form <name>.<section>

       * Preargument before the name argument in the form <section> <name>

       It is also possible to specify several sections by appending the single
       characters separated by colons.  One can imagine that this means to re-
       strict the man page search to only some sections.   The  multiple  sec-
       tions are only possible for $MANSECT and --sections.

       If no section is specified all sections are searched one after the oth-
       er in the given order, starting with section 1, until a  suitable  file
       is found.

       There  are  4 methods to specify an extension on the command line.  But
       it is not necessary to provide the whole extension name, some abbrevia-
       tion is good enough in most cases.

       * Environment variable $EXTENSION

       * Command line option --extension

       * Appendix  to  the  <name>.<section> argument in the form <name>.<sec-

       * Preargument before the name argument in the form <section><extension>

       For further details on man page searching, see man(1).

   Examples of man files
              This  is  an  uncompressed  file  for the man page groff in sec-
              tion 1.  It can be called by
              sh# groffer groff
              No  section  is  specified  here,  so  all  sections  should  be
              searched,  but  as section 1 is searched first this file will be
              found first.  The file name is composed of the following  compo-
              nents.  /usr/share/man/ must be part of the man path; the subdi-
              rectory man1/ and the part .1 stand for the  section;  groff  is
              the name of the man page.

              The   file   name  is  composed  of  the  following  components.
              /usr/local/share/man must be part of the man path; the subdirec-
              tory  man7/  and the part .7 stand for the section; groff is the
              name of the man page; the final part .gz stands for  a  compres-
              sion  with gzip(1).  As the section is not the first one it must
              be specified as well.  This can be done by one of the  following
              sh# groffer groff.7
              sh# groffer 7 groff
              sh# groffer --sections=7 groff

              Here  /usr/local/man must be in man path; the subdirectory man1/
              and the file name part .1 stand for section 1; the name  of  the
              man page is ctags; the section has an extension emacs21; and the
              file is compressed as .bz2  with  bzip2(1).   The  file  can  be
              viewed with one of the following commands
              sh# groffer ctags.1e
              sh# groffer 1e ctags
              sh# groffer --extension=e --sections=1 ctags
              where e works as an abbreviation for the extension emacs21.

              The  directory  /usr/man is now part of the man path; then there
              is a subdirectory for an  operating  system  name  linux/;  next
              comes  a  subdirectory  de/ for the German language; the section
              names man7 and .7 are known so far;  man  is  the  name  of  the
              man  page;  and .Z signifies the compression that can be handled
              by gzip(1).  We want now show how to provide several values  for
              some  options.  That is possible for sections and operating sys-
              tem names.  So we use as sections 5 and 7 and  as  system  names
              linux and aix.  The command is then

              sh# groffer --locale=de --sections=5:7 --systems=linux,aix man
              sh# LANG=de MANSECT=5:7 SYSTEM=linux,aix groffer man

       The  program has a decompression facility.  If standard input or a file
       that was retrieved from the command line parameters is compressed  with
       a  format  that is supported by either gzip(1) or bzip2(1) it is decom-
       pressed on-the-fly.  This includes the GNU .gz, .bz2,  and  the  tradi-
       tional  .Z  compression.  The program displays the concatenation of all
       decompressed input in the sequence that was specified  on  the  command

       The  groffer  program  supports  many system variables, most of them by
       courtesy of other programs.  All environment variables of groff(1)  and
       GNU man(1) and some standard system variables are honored.

   Native groffer Variables
              Store  options  for  a run of groffer.  The options specified in
              this variable are overridden by the options given on the command
              line.   The  content  of  this variable is run through the shell
              builtin `eval'; so arguments containing white-space  or  special
              shell characters should be quoted.  Do not forget to export this
              variable, otherwise it does not exist during the run of groffer.

   System Variables
       The following variables have a special meaning for groffer.

              If this variable is set this indicates that the X Window  system
              is  running.  Testing this variable decides on whether graphical
              or text output  is  generated.   This  variable  should  not  be
              changed  by the user carelessly, but it can be used to start the
              graphical groffer on a remote X Window terminal.   For  example,
              depending  on  your system, groffer can be started on the second
              monitor by the command

              sh# DISPLAY=:0.1 groffer what.ever &

       $LANG  If one of these variables is set (in the  above  sequence),  its
              content  is  interpreted as the locale, the language to be used,
              especially when retrieving man pages.  A locale  name  is  typi-
              cally  of  the  form  language[_territory[.codeset[@modifier]]],
              where language is an ISO 639 language code, territory is an  ISO
              3166  country  code,  and codeset is a character set or encoding
              identifier like ISO-8859-1 or UTF-8; see setlocale(3).  The  lo-
              cale values C and POSIX stand for the default, i.e. the man page
              directories without a language prefix.  This is the same  behav-
              ior as when all 3 variables are unset.

       $PAGER This  variable  can be used to set the pager for the tty output.
              For example, to disable the use of a pager completely  set  this
              variable to the cat(1) program

              sh# PAGER=cat groffer anything

       $PATH  All  programs  within  the  groffer  script are called without a
              fixed path.  Thus this environment variable determines  the  set
              of programs used within the run of groffer.

   Groff Variables
       The  groffer  program  internally calls groff, so all environment vari-
       ables documented in groff(1) are  internally  used  within  groffer  as
       well.  The following variable has a direct meaning for the groffer pro-

              If the value of this variable is an  existing,  writable  direc-
              tory,  groffer  uses it for storing its temporary files, just as
              groff does.  See the groff(1) man page for more details  on  the
              location of temporary files.

   Man Variables
       Parts  of  the  functionality  of  the  man program were implemented in
       groffer; support for all environment variables documented in man(1) was
       added to groffer, but the meaning was slightly modified due to the dif-
       ferent approach in groffer; but the user interface is  the  same.   The
       man  environment  variables can be overwritten by options provided with
       $MANOPT, which in turn is overwritten by the command line.

              Restrict the search for man pages to files  having  this  exten-
              sion.   This  is overridden by option --extension; see there for

              This variable contains options as a preset for man(1).   As  not
              all  of  these are relevant for groffer only the essential parts
              of its value are extracted.  The options specified in this vari-
              able  overwrite  the  values  of the other environment variables
              that are specific to man.  All options specified in  this  vari-
              able are overridden by the options given on the command line.

              If  set,  this  variable  contains  the directories in which the
              man page  trees  are  stored.   This  is  overridden  by  option

              If  this  is a colon separated list of section names, the search
              for man pages is restricted to those  manual  sections  in  that
              order.  This is overridden by option --sections.

              If  this  is  set  to  a comma separated list of names these are
              interpreted as man page trees for different  operating  systems.
              This  variable can be overwritten by option --systems; see there
              for details.

       The environment variable $MANROFFSEQ is ignored by groffer because  the
       necessary preprocessors are determined automatically.

       The groffer program can be preconfigured by two configuration files.

              System-wide configuration file for groffer.

              User-specific   configuration  file  for  groffer,  where  $HOME
              denotes the user's home directory.  This file  is  called  after
              the  system-wide  configuration file to enable overriding by the

       Both files are handled for the  configuration,  but  the  configuration
       file  in  /etc comes first; it is overwritten by the configuration file
       in the home directory; both configuration files are overwritten by  the
       environment  variable  $GROFFER_OPT;  everything  is overwritten by the
       command line arguments.

       The configuration files  contain  options  that  should  be  called  as
       default for every groffer run.  These options are written in lines such
       that each contains either a long option, a short  option,  or  a  short
       option  cluster;  each  with or without an argument.  So each line with
       configuration information starts with a minus  character  `-';  a  line
       with a long option starts with two minus characters `--', a line with a
       short option or short option cluster starts with a single minus `-'.

       The option names in the configuration files  may  not  be  abbreviated,
       they must be exact.

       The  argument  for  a long option can be separated from the option name
       either by an equal sign `=' or by whitespace, i.e. one or several space
       or  tab  characters.   An  argument  for a short option or short option
       cluster can be directly appended to the option  name  or  separated  by
       whitespace.   The end of an argument is the end of the line.  It is not
       allowed to use a shell environment variable in an option name or  argu-

       It  is not necessary to use quotes in an option or argument, except for
       empty arguments.  An empty argument can be provided by appending a pair
       of  quotes  to  the  separating  equal sign or whitespace; with a short
       option, the separator can be omitted as well.  For a long option with a
       separating equal sign `=', the pair of quotes can be omitted, thus end-
       ing the line with the separating equal sign.  All other  quote  charac-
       ters are cancelled internally.

       In  the  configuration  files,  arbitrary  whitespace is allowed at the
       beginning of each line, it is just ignored.  Each whitespace  within  a
       line is replaced by a single space character ` ' internally.

       All  lines  of  the  configuration lines that do not start with a minus
       character are ignored, such that comments starting with `#' are  possi-
       ble.  So there are no shell commands in the configuration files.

       As  an  example,  consider the following configuration file that can be
       used either in /etc/groff/groffer.conf or ~/.groff/groffer.conf .

       # groffer configuration file
       # groffer options that are used in each call of groffer
       --viewer=gxditview -geometry 900x1200
       --viewer xpdf -Z 150

       The lines starting with # are just ignored,  so  they  act  as  command
       lines.   This configuration sets four groffer options (the lines start-
       ing with `-').  This has the following effects:

       * Use a text color of DarkBlue in all viewers that support  this,  such
         as gxditview.

       * Use  a resolution of 100dpi in all viewers that support this, such as
         gxditview.  By this, the default device in x mode is set to X100.

       * Force gxditview(1) as the x-mode viewer using the geometry option for
         setting  the  width to 900px and the height to 1200px.  This geometry
         is suitable for a resolution of 100dpi.

       * Use xpdf(1) as the pdf-mode viewer with the argument -Z 150.

       The usage of groffer is very easy.  Usually, it is just called  with  a
       file  name  or  man  page.   The following examples, however, show that
       groffer has much more fancy capabilities.

       sh# groffer /usr/local/share/doc/groff/meintro.ms.gz

       Decompress, format and display the compressed file meintro.ms.gz in the
       directory   /usr/local/share/doc/groff,   using   the  standard  viewer
       gxditview as graphical viewer when in X Window, or  the  less(1)  pager
       program when not in X Window.

       sh# groffer groff

       If  the  file  ./groff exists use it as input.  Otherwise interpret the
       argument as a search for the man page named groff in the smallest  pos-
       sible man section, being section 1 in this case.

       sh# groffer man:groff

       search for the man page of groff even when the file ./groff exists.

       sh# groffer groff.7
       sh# groffer 7 groff

       search  the  man  page  of groff in man section 7.  This section search
       works only for a digit or a single character from a small set.

       sh# groffer fb.modes

       If the file ./fb.modes does not exist interpret this as  a  search  for
       the man page of fb.modes.  As the extension modes is not a single char-
       acter in classical section style the argument is not split to a  search
       for fb.

       sh# groffer groff 'troff(1)' man:roff

       The  arguments that are not existing files are looked-up as the follow-
       ing man pages: groff (automatic search, should be  found  in  man  sec-
       tion 1), troff (in section 1), and roff (in the section with the lowest
       number, being 7 in this case).  The quotes around 'troff(1)' are neces-
       sary  because  the  parentheses  are special shell characters; escaping
       them with a backslash character \( and \) would be possible, too.   The
       formatted files are concatenated and displayed in one piece.

       sh# LANG=de groffer --man --viewer=galeon ls

       Retrieve  the  German man page (language de) for the ls program, decom-
       press it, format it to html format (www mode) and view  the  result  in
       the  web browser galeon.  The option --man guarantees that the man page
       is retrieved, even when a local file ls exists in the actual directory.

       sh# groffer --source 'man:roff(7)'

       Get the man page called roff in man section 7, decompress it, and print
       its unformatted content, its source code.

       sh# groffer --de-p --in --ap

       This is a set of abbreviated arguments, it is determined as

       sh# groffer --debug-params --intermediate-output --apropos

       sh# cat file.gz | groffer -Z -mfoo

       The  file  file.gz is sent to standard input, this is decompressed, and
       then this is transported to the groff intermediate output mode  without
       post-processing  (groff  option  -Z),  using  macro  package foo (groff
       option -m).

       sh# echo '\f[CB]WOW!' |
       > groffer --x --bg red --fg yellow --geometry 200x100 -

       Display the word WOW! in a small window in  constant-width  bold  font,
       using color yellow on red background.

       The groffer program is written in Perl, the Perl version during writing
       was v5.8.8.

       groffer provides its own parser for command line arguments that is com-
       patible  to  both  POSIX  getopts(1)  and GNU getopt(1).  It can handle
       option arguments and file names containing white space and a large  set
       of  special  characters.   The  following standard types of options are

       * The option consisting of a single minus - refers to standard input.

       * A single minus followed by characters refers to  a  single  character
         option  or  a  combination  thereof;  for  example, the groffer short
         option combination -Qmfoo is equivalent to -Q -m foo.

       * Long options are options with names longer than one  character;  they
         are always preceded by a double minus.  An option argument can either
         go to the next command line argument or be  appended  with  an  equal
         sign  to  the  argument;  for  example,  --long=arg  is equivalent to
         --long arg.

       * An argument of -- ends option parsing; all further command line argu-
         ments are interpreted as filespec parameters, i.e. file names or con-
         structs for searching man pages).

       * All command line arguments that are neither options nor option  argu-
         ments  are interpreted as filespec parameters and stored until option
         parsing has finished.  For example, the command line

         sh# groffer file1 -a -o arg file2

         is equivalent to

         sh# groffer -a -o arg -- file1 file2

       The free mixing of options and  filespec  parameters  follows  the  GNU
       principle.   That does not fulfill the strange option behavior of POSIX
       that ends option processing as soon as the  first  non-option  argument
       has  been  reached.   The end of option processing can be forced by the
       option `--' anyway.

       Report bugs to the bug-groff mailing list <bug-groff@gnu.org>.  Include
       a complete, self-contained example that will allow the bug to be repro-
       duced, and say which version of groffer you are using.

       You can also use the groff mailing list <groff@gnu.org>, but  you  must
       first  subscribe  to  this list.  You can do that by visiting the groff
       mailing list web page <http://lists.gnu.org/mailman/listinfo/groff>.

       See groff(1) for information on availability.

       See attributes(7) for descriptions of the following attributes:

       |Availability   | text/groff       |
       |Stability      | Uncommitted      |

       groff(1), troff(1)
              Details on the options and environment  variables  available  in
              groff; all of them can be used with groffer.

              This  program  tries  to  guess the necessary groff command line
              options from the input and the groffer options.

              Documentation of the groff language.

              Documentation on the groff characters, special  characters,  and

              Documentation on the groff macro files.

              Documentation on the groff intermediate output before the run of
              a postprocessor.  (ditroff output).  This  can  be  run  by  the
              groff or groffer option -Z.

       man(1) The  standard  program  to  display  man pages.  The information
              there is only useful if it is the man page for GNU man.  Then it
              documents  the  options  and environment variables that are sup-
              ported by groffer.

              Viewers for groffer's x mode.

       gs(1)  Viewers for groffer's ps mode.

       ggv(1) Viewers for groffer's pdf mode.

       kdvi(1), xdvi(1), dvilx(1)
              Viewers for groffer's dvi mode.

              Web-browsers for groffer's html or www mode.

              Standard pager program for the tty mode.

       xz(1)  The decompression programs supported by groffer.

       Copyright (C) 2001-2014 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

       This file is part of groffer, which is part of groff, a  free  software

       You  can  redistribute  it  and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU
       General Public License version 2 as  published  by  the  Free  Software

       The    license    text    is    available    in    the    internet   at

       This file was written by Bernd Warken <groff-bernd.warken-72@web.de>.

       Source code for open source software components in Oracle  Solaris  can
       be found at https://www.oracle.com/downloads/opensource/solaris-source-

       This    software    was    built    from    source     available     at
       https://github.com/oracle/solaris-userland.    The  original  community
       source                was                downloaded                from

       Further information about this software can be found on the open source
       community website at https://www.gnu.org/software/groff.

Groff Version 1.22.3            4 November 2014                     GROFFER(1)