XMAN(1) General Commands Manual XMAN(1)
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(7)).
The following additional arguments are supported.
Specifies a helpfile to use other than the default.
Allows both the manual page and manual directory to be on the
screen at the same time.
Starts without the Top Menu with the three buttons in it.
Sets the size and location of the Top Menu with the three but‐
tons in it.
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 Sec‐
tions menu. Xman determines which directories it will search by read‐
ing 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
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 dis‐
played 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 direc‐
tories 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.
BSD AND LINUX SYSTEMS
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
THE MANDESC FILE
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
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:
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 Program‐
mers Manual. Since the label names are exactly the same they will be
added to the same section. Note, however, that the original sections
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
no default sections
1(1) User Commands
5(5) File Formats
8(8) Sys. Administration
Xman will read any section that is of the from man
tinctly) or a numeral (0-9). Be warned, however, that man(1) and cat‐
man(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)
. (one for each section,
. created on the fly)
. (one for each section)
xman has the following application-specific resources which allow cus‐
tomizations 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 simultane‐
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) spec‐
ified above. The name was chosen to be compatible
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 but‐
tons) 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 orga‐
nized. 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
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
Quit() This action may be used anywhere, and will exit xman.
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
PopupSearch() This action may be used anywhere except in a help win‐
dow. 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 dis‐
play 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.
specifies required resources.
/tmp Xman creates temporary files in /tmp for all
unformatted man pages and all apropos
DISPLAY the default host and display to use.
MANPATH the search path for manual pages. Directories are sepa‐
rated by colons (e.g.
XENVIRONMENT to get the name of a resource file that overrides the
global resources stored in the RESOURCE_MANAGER prop‐
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.
X Version 11 xman 1.1.4 XMAN(1)