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       fortune - print a random, hopefully interesting, adage


       fortune [-acefilosuw] [-n length] [ -m pattern] [[n%] file/dir/all]


       When  fortune  is run with no arguments it prints out a random epigram.
       Epigrams are divided into several categories, where  each  category  is
       sub-divided  into those which are potentially offensive and those which
       are not.

       The options are as follows:

       -a     Choose from all lists of maxims, both offensive and  not.   (See
              the -o option for more information on offensive fortunes.)

       -c     Show the cookie file from which the fortune came.

       -e     Consider  all  fortune files to be of equal size (see discussion
              below on multiple files).

       -f     Print out the list of files which would be searched,  but  don’t
              print a fortune.

       -l     Long  dictums  only.   See -n on how ‘‘long’’ is defined in this

       -m pattern
              Print out all fortunes which match the basic regular  expression
              pattern.   The  syntax  of these expressions depends on how your
              system  defines  re_comp(3)  or  regcomp(3),   but   it   should
              nevertheless be similar to the syntax used in grep(1).

              The  fortunes  are output to standard output, while the names of
              the file from which each fortune comes are printed  to  standard
              error.   Either or both can be redirected; if standard output is
              redirected to a file, the result is a  valid  fortunes  database
              file.   If  standard  error is also redirected to this file, the
              result is still valid, but there  will  be  ‘‘bogus’’  fortunes,
              i.e.  the  filenames  themselves,  in  parentheses.  This can be
              useful if you wish to remove the  gathered  matches  from  their
              original  files,  since  each  filename-record  will precede the
              records from the file it names.

       -n length
              Set the longest fortune length (in characters) considered to  be
              ‘‘short’’  (the  default is 160).  All fortunes longer than this
              are considered ‘‘long’’.  Be careful!  If you set the length too
              short  and  ask for short fortunes, or too long and ask for long
              ones, fortune goes into a never-ending thrash loop.

       -o     Choose only from potentially offensive aphorisms.  The -o option
              is ignored if a fortune directory is specified.

              Please,  please,  please request a potentially offensive fortune
              if and only if you believe, deep in your  heart,  that  you  are
              willing  to  be  offended.  (And  that youll just quit using -o
              rather than give us grief about it, okay?)

              ... let us keep in mind the basic governing  philosophy  of  The
              Brotherhood, as handsomely summarized in these words: we believe
              in healthy, hearty laughter -- at the expense of the whole human
              race, if needs be.  Needs be.
                     --H. Allen Smith, "Rude Jokes"

       -s     Short  apothegms  only.  See -n on which fortunes are considered

       -i     Ignore case for -m patterns.

       -w     Wait before termination for an amount of  time  calculated  from
              the  number  of characters in the message.  This is useful if it
              is executed as part of the logout procedure  to  guarantee  that
              the message can be read before the screen is cleared.

       -u     Don’t  translate  UTF-8 fortunes to the locale when searching or

       The user may specify alternate sayings.  You  can  specify  a  specific
       file, a directory which contains one or more files, or the special word
       all which says to use all the standard databases.  Any of these may  be
       preceded  by  a  percentage,  which  is  a  number  n between 0 and 100
       inclusive, followed by a %.  If it  is,  there  will  be  a  n  percent
       probability  that  an adage will be picked from that file or directory.
       If the percentages do not sum to  100,  and  there  are  specifications
       without  percentages,  the  remaining percent will apply to those files
       and/or directories, in which case the probability of selecting from one
       of them will be based on their relative sizes.

       As  an  example,  given  two  databases funny and not-funny, with funny
       twice as big (in number of fortunes, not raw file size), saying

              fortune funny not-funny

       will get you fortunes out of funny two-thirds of the time.  The command

              fortune 90% funny 10% not-funny

       will  pick out 90% of its fortunes from funny (the ‘‘10% not-funny’’ is
       unnecessary, since 10% is all that’s left).

       The -e option says to consider all files equal; thus

              fortune -e funny not-funny

       is equivalent to

              fortune 50% funny 50% not-funny

       This fortune also supports  the  BSD  method  of  appending  ‘‘-o’’  to
       database  names to specify offensive fortunes.  However this is not how
       fortune stores them:  offensive  fortunes  are  stored  in  a  seperate
       directory  without the ‘‘-o’’ infix.  A plain name (i.e., not a path to
       a file or directory) that ends in ‘‘-o’’  will  be  assumed  to  be  an
       offensive  database,  and  will  have  its  suffix  stripped off and be
       searched in the offensive directory (even if the neither of the  -a  or
       -o  options  were  specified).  This feature is not only for backwards-
       compatibility,  but  also  to  allow  users  to   distinguish   between
       inoffensive and offensive databases of the same name.

       For example, assuming there is a database named definitions in both the
       inoffensive and potentially offensive collections, then  the  following
       command  will  select  an inoffensive definition 90% of the time, and a
       potentially offensive definition for the remaining 10%:

              fortune 90% definitions definitions-o


       Note: these are the defaults as defined at compile time.

              Directory for innoffensive fortunes.
              Directory for offensive fortunes.

       If a particular set of fortunes is particularly unwanted, there  is  an
       easy  solution:  delete the associated .dat file.  This leaves the data
       intact, should the file later be wanted, but since  fortune  no  longer
       finds the pointers file, it ignores the text file.


       The division of fortunes into offensive and non-offensive by directory,
       rather than via the ‘-o’  file  infix,  is  not  100%  compatible  with
       original  BSD  fortune.  Although  the  ‘-o’  infix  is  recognised  as
       referring to an offensive database, the offensive database files  still
       need  to  be in a separate directory.  The workaround, of course, is to
       move the ‘-o’ files into  the  offensive  directory  (with  or  without
       renaming), and to use the -a option.

       The  supplied fortune databases have been attacked, in order to correct
       orthographical and  grammatical  errors,  and  particularly  to  reduce
       redundancy  and  repetition  and  redundancy.   But especially to avoid
       repetitiousness.  This  has  not  been  a  complete  success.   In  the
       process, some fortunes may also have been lost.

       The  fortune  databases are now divided into a larger number of smaller
       files, some organized by format  (poetry,  definitions),  and  some  by
       content  (religion,  politics).   There  are parallel files in the main
       directory   and   in   the    offensive    files    directory    (e.g.,
       fortunes/definitions   and   fortunes/off/definitions).   Not  all  the
       potentially offensive fortunes are in the offensive fortunes files, nor
       are  all  the  fortunes  in  the offensive files potentially offensive,
       probably, though a strong attempt has  been  made  to  achieve  greater
       consistency.  Also, a better division might be made.


       This  version of fortune is based on the NetBSD fortune 1.4, but with a
       number of bug fixes and enhancements.

       The original fortune/strfile format used a single  file;  strfile  read
       the  text  file  and converted it to null-delimited strings, which were
       stored after the table of pointers in the .dat file.  By NetBSD fortune
       1.4, this had changed to two separate files: the .dat file was only the
       header (the table of pointers, plus flags; see strfile.h), and the text
       strings  were  left in their own file.  The potential problem with this
       is that text file and header  file  may  get  out  of  synch,  but  the
       advantage is that the text files can be easily edited without resorting
       to unstr, and there is a  potential  savings  in  disk  space  (on  the
       assumption  that  the sysadmin kept both .dat file with strings and the
       text file).

       Many of the enhancements made over the NetBSD version assumed  a  Linux
       system,  and  thus  caused  it to fail under other platforms, including
       BSD.  The source code has since been made more generic,  and  currently
       works  on  SunOS  4.x as well as Linux, with support for more platforms
       expected in  the  future.   Note  that  some  bugs  were  inadvertently
       discovered and fixed during this process.

       At  a  guess,  a  great  many  people have worked on this program, many
       without leaving attributions.


       re_comp(3), regcomp(3), strfile(1), unstr(1)