Man Linux: Main Page and Category List


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


       -h|--help -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
       available  for  groff.   This includes the groff native X Window viewer
       gxditview(1), each Postcript,  pdf,  or  dvi  display  program,  a  web
       browser  by  generating html in www mode, or several text modes in text

       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

       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
       following  arguments  are  treated  as file names.  Long options can be
       abbreviated in several ways.


       breaking options

       groffer mode options

       options related to groff

              All further groff short options are accepted.

       options for man pages

       long options taken over from GNU man

              Further long options of GNU man are accepted as well.

       X Window Toolkit options

       options for development

       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
              followed by an extension.  The name of a man section is a single
              character  from  [1-9on],  the  extension  is  some  word.   The
              extension 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.

                        man:name.section_extension     name(section_extension)
                        name.section_extension  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.
       Furthermore, each minus sign - is considered as a starting point for  a
       new  abbreviation.  This leads to a set of multiple abbreviations for a
       single 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
       executed,  printed  to  standard  output,  and  the  running groffer is
       terminated thereafter.  All other arguments are ignored.

       Print a helping information with a short explanation of option sto
              standard output.

       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  latin1  under  less  on  a
       terminal;  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
       background.  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  --ps-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.

       --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
              viewers 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.

              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.  --dvi.

              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
                     existence  of  a  sequence  of  standard  web browsers is
                     tested, starting with konqueror(1) and  mozilla(1).   The
                     text html viewer is lynx(1).

              pdf    Display  formatted  input  in  a  PDF  (Portable Document
                     Format)  viewer  program.   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.   pdf  has  a  big advantage
                     because  the  text  is  displayed  graphically   and   is
                     searchable as well.

              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
                     standard output without a pager or viewer  program.   The
                     text device, latin1 by default, can be chosen with option

              tty    Format in a groff text  mode  and  write  the  result  to
                     standard  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 --x-viewer .  The  default
                     resolution is 75 dpi, but 100 dpi are also possible.  The
                     default groff device for the  resolution  of  75  dpi  is
                     X75-12,  for 100 dpi it is X100.  The corresponding groff
                     intermediate output for the actual  device  is  generated
                     and  the  result  is  displayed.   For  a  resolution  of
                     100 dpi, the default width of the geometry of the display
                     program is chosen to 850 dpi.

              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.

       --pdf-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.

       --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
              inlude  gv(1),  ghostview(1), and gs(1), In each case, arguments
              can be provided additionally.

              Equivalent --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
              graphical mode.

       --tty  Equivalent to --mode=tty.

       --tty-viewer prog
              Choose a text  pager  for  mode  tty.   The  standard  pager  is
              less(1).   This  option is eqivalent 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.

       --www-viewer prog
              Equivalent to --html-viewer .

       --X~| --x
              Equivalent to --mode=x.

       --X-viewer -- 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;
              arguments 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
       classical 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
       viewing 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.

              Add  file  as  a  groff  macro  file.  This is useful in case it
              cannot be recognized automatically.

              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
              important devices are the text output devices for  referring  to
              the  different  character sets, such as ascii, utf8, latin1, 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
       documented  here,  but  in groff(1).  Due to the automatism in groffer,
       none of these groff options  should  be  needed,  except  for  advanced

   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
              declarations 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
              declarations 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
       ignored.   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
       options 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.

              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 .

              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.

              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.

              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  is
              equivalent to --tty-viewer .

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

              Search for man  pages  for  the  given  operating  systems;  the
              argument systems is a comma-separated list.

              Eqivalent 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

       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.

              Set the background color of the viewer window.

              This is equivalent to --bordercolor .

              This is equivalent to --background .

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

              Specifies the color of the border surrounding the viewer window.

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

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

              Set the foreground color of the viewer window.

              This is equivalent to -foreground .

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

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

              This is equivalent to --font .

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

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

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

       --titlesome text
              Set the title for the viewer window.

              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
              temporary  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
              parameter check.

       -V     This  is  an  advanced  option  for  debugging only.  Instead of
              displaying the  formatted  input,  a  lot  of  groffer  specific
              information 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
                without 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
       argument.  In groffer,  filespec  parameters  are  a  file  name  or  a
       template  for  searching  man pages.  These input sources are collected
       and composed 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
       througout.  But, as usual, the double minus argument -- ends the option
       handling and interprets all following arguments as filespec  arguments;
       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
       expressions are used for the arguments.   The  filespec  arguments  are
       handled 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
       chooses  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.   Additionally,  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 an option that is constructed
       like --anymode-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
       active 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
       environment variable $DISPLAY and the option  --display  are  used  for
       specifying  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 --default-modes.

       Known viewers for  the  graphical  display  modes  and  their  standard
       X Window viewer progams 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  diplay
       mode  that  allows  to search for text within the viewer; this can be a
       really  important  feature.   Unfortunately,  it  takes  some  time  to
       transform  the  input  into the PDF format, so it was not chosen as the
       major mode.

       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
       --tty-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
       development purposes.

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

       Otion  --to-stdout  does  not  display  in  a  graphical mode.  It just
       generates 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
       options 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
       parameter 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
              searching man pages.

              --local-file disable the man searching; so only local files  are

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

   Search Algoritm
       Let  us  now  assume  that  a man page should be searched.  The groffer
       program 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
       contain 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

       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
       always 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
       languages.  The wanted language can be chosen by several methods.

       · Enviroment 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
       usually 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
       characters as well.

       The  actual  directory  set  is  copied  thrice.   The language name is
       appended as subdirectory to each directory in the  first  copy  of  the
       actual  directory set (this is only done when a language information is
       given).  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
       containing  all man files for this section, where <section> is a single
       character 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
       restrict  the  man  page  search  to  only some sections.  The multiple
       sections are only possible for $MANSECT and --sections.

       If no section is specified all sections  are  searched  one  after  the
       other  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
       abbreviation is good enough in most cases.

       · Environment variable $EXTENSION

       · Command line option --extension

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

       · 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
              section  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   components.
              /usr/share/man  must  be  part of the man path; the subdirectory
              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
              subdirectory  man7/ and the part .7 stand for the section; groff
              is the name of the man page; the final part  .gz  stands  for  a
              compression  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  commands.   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
              system 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
       decompressed  on-the-fly.   This  includes  the  GNU .gz, .bz2, and the
       traditional .Z compression.  The program displays the concatenation  of
       all  decompressed  input  in  the  sequence  that  was specified on the
       command line.


       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 &

              $LC_MESSAGES $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      typically      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 locale values C and
              POSIX stand for the  default,  i.e.  the  man  page  directories
              without  a  language  prefix.  This is the same behavior 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
       variables  documented in groff(1) are internally used within groffer as
       well.  The following variable has a  direct  meaning  for  the  groffer

              If   the  value  of  this  variable  is  an  existing,  writable
              directory, groffer uses it for storing its temporary files, just
              as groff does.

   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
       different 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
              extension.   This is overridden by option --extension; see there
              for details.

              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
              variable overwrite the values of the other environment variables
              that are  specific  to  man.   All  options  specified  in  this
              variable  are  overridden  by  the  options given on the command

              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

       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
       ending  the  line  with  the  separating  equal  sign.  All other quote
       characters 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
       possible.  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
       --resolution 100
       --x-viewer=gxditview -geometry 900x1200
       --pdf-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
       starting 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 100 dpi 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 900 dpi  and  the  height  to  1200  dpi.   This
         geometry is suitable for a resolution of 100 dpi.

       · 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/ Decompress, format
       and   display  the  compressed  file  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
       possible 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
       character  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
       following  man  pages:  groff  (automatic  search,  should  be found in
       man section 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
       necessary  because  the  paranthesis  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 --www --www-viever=galeon ls

       Retrieve  the  German  man  page  (language  de)  for  the  ls program,
       decompress 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

       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
       compatible  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
         arguments  are interpreted as filespec parameters, i.e. file names or
         constructs for searching man pages).

       · All command line  arguments  that  are  neither  options  nor  option
         arguments  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  Include  a  complete,  self-
       contained  example  that  will  allow the bug to be reproduced, and say
       which version of groffer you are using.

       You can also use the groff mailing list but you must first subscribe to
       this list.  You can do that by visiting the groff mailing list web page

       See groff(1) for information on availability.


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

              Documentation of the groff language.

              Internally,  groffer  tries  to  guess  the  groff  command line
              options from the input using this program.

              Preprocessor of groff that is run automatically.

              Documentation on the groff intermediate output (ditroff output).

              Documentation on the groff macro files.

       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
              supported by groffer.

       gxditview(1), xditview(1x)
              Viewers for groffer’s x mode.

       kpdf(1), kghostview(1), evince(1), ggv(1), gv(1), ghostview(1), gs(1)
              Viewers for groffer’s ps mode.

       kpdf(1),  acroread(1),  evince(1),  xpdf(1),  gpdf(1),   kghostview(1),
              Viewers for groffer’s pdf mode.

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

       konqueror(1), epiphany(1), firefox(1), mozilla(1), netscape(1), lynx(1)
              Web-browsers for groffer’s html or www mode.

              Standard pager program for the tty mode .

       gzip(1), bzip2(1)
              The decompression programs supported by groffer.


       This file was written by Bernd Warken.


       Copyright (C) 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009
         Free Software Foundation, Inc.

       This file is part of groffer, which is part of groff, a  free  software
       project.   You  can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of
       the GNU General Public  License  as  published  by  the  Free  Software
       Foundation,  either  version  3 of the License, or (at your option) any
       later version.

       You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along
       with  groff,  see the files COPYING and LICENSE in the top directory of
       the groff source package.  Or read the man page gpl(1).  You  can  also
       visit <>.