manweb [-config=configfile] [topic [ subtopic ... ] ]
This gets a master index of documentation.
This gets the main documentation page for the Netpbm package, with
hyperlinks to the rest of the documentation.
manweb netpbm pngtopam
This goes directly to the documentation page for the Pngtopam program
in the Netpbm package.
This also goes directly to the documentation page for the Pngtopam
program in the Netpbm package, if that's what would run in response to
a pngtopam shell command (your PATH environment variable is involved).
manweb 3 fopen
This gets the traditional man page for the fopen() subroutine using
This gets the GNU Info manual for the cp program, using info.
manweb displays reference documentation via quick shell commands. It
is a replacement for the well-known man.
Differences Between Man and Manweb
manweb's advantages over man are:
Web servers need not be involved -- the documentation can be in local
files. Graphics need not be involved -- the lynx browser works fine
in the same kind of terminals in which man works.
manweb finds the documentation you specify and calls a web browser of
your choice to display it. The documentation manweb finds can be
either an HTML file on your system, in which case, manweb gives a
file: URL to your browser, or an explicit URL. That explicit URL
might be an http: URL referring to an HTML file on a web server some-
where, or anything else your browser understands.
If manweb finds neither an HTML file nor a URL, but your parameters
look like they could mean something to man, manweb calls man. There-
fore, you can use a single command to access the vast body of tradi-
tional man pages, plus any newer manweb documentation. You can make
"man" a shell alias of "manweb".
manweb finds Info documentation as well. It looks for the topic you
specify as an Info topic after looking for HTML and URL documentation
and before running man. If manweb finds a corresponding Info topic,
it runs the program info on it. Info is the documentation system that
the GNU project invented to, among other things, replace traditional
Unix man pages. However, HTML and the Worldwide Web were invented
shortly afterward, so Info fizzled. But there is still a lot of GNU
software that is documented as Info topics.
How Manweb Finds Documentation
manweb passes a URL to a web browser. This section tells how your
manweb invocation parameters turn into that URL.
manweb's search starts in the "web directory" directory. That's
either the value of the webdir keyword in your manweb configuration
file, or the default /usr/man/web.
Your invocation parameters form a "topic chain." Going from left to
right, the first parameter is the main topic, the 2nd is a subtopic of
the main topic, and so on.
Let's look at the simple case where you specify exactly one parameter
-- a main topic. We'll call it maintopic and look at 4 ways manweb
might find it:
It gets a little more interesting when you have subtopics. Looking at
each of the 4 cases above:
If you give no parameters at all, manweb generates a URL for the web
directory itself as described above for subdirectories.
The above is simplified by the assumption of a single web directory.
In reality, the webdir keyword in the configuration file can specify a
chain of web directories. manweb searches each one in turn, doing all
the kinds of searches in each web directory before moving on to the
The Configuration File
The default location of the manweb configuration file is /etc/man-
web.conf. But you can override this with the environment variable
MANWEB_CONF_FILE, and override that with the -config invocation
Lines starting with "#" are comments and are ignored, as are blank
All other lines have the format keyword=value. The keywords defined