manpath(5) — Linux manual page


MANPATH(5)             /usr/local/etc/man_db.conf             MANPATH(5)

NAME         top

       manpath - format of the /usr/local/etc/man_db.conf file

DESCRIPTION         top

       The manpath configuration file is used by the manual page
       utilities to assess users' manpaths at run time, to indicate
       which manual page hierarchies (manpaths) are to be treated as
       system hierarchies and to assign them directories to be used for
       storing cat files.

       If the environment variable $MANPATH is already set, the
       information contained within /usr/local/etc/man_db.conf will not
       override it.

SEARCH PATH         top

       By default, man-db examines the user's $PATH.  For each
       path_element found there, it adds manpath_element to the search

       If there is no MANPATH_MAP line in the configuration file for a
       given path_element, then it adds all of path_element/../man,
       path_element/man, path_element/../share/man, and
       path_element/share/man that exist as directories to the search

       It then adds any MANDATORY_MANPATH entries from the configuration
       file to the search path.

       Finally, if the --systems option is used or the $SYSTEM
       environment variable is set, then that should consist of a
       sequence of operating system names separated by commas or colons.
       This acts as a template, expanding the search path once more to
       allow access to other operating systems' manual pages: for each
       system name, man-db looks for that name as a subdirectory of each
       entry in the search path, and adds it to the final search path if
       it exists.  A system name of man inserts the normal search path
       without subdirectories.  For example, if the search path would
       otherwise have been /usr/share/man:/usr/local/man, and $SYSTEM is
       set to newOS:man, then the final search path will be

       The $MANPATH environment variable overrides man-db's default
       manual page search paths.  Most users should not need to set it.
       Its syntax is similar to the $PATH environment variable: it
       consists of a sequence of directory names separated by colons.
       It overrides the default search path described above.

       If the value of $MANPATH starts with a colon, then the default
       search path is added at its start.  If the value of $MANPATH ends
       with a colon, then the default search path is added at its end.
       If the value of $MANPATH contains a double colon (::), then the
       default search path is inserted in the middle of the value,
       between the two colons.

FORMAT         top

       The following field types are currently recognised:

       # comment
              Blank lines or those beginning with a # will be treated as
              comments and ignored.

       MANDATORY_MANPATH manpath_element
              Lines of this form indicate manpaths that every
              automatically generated $MANPATH should contain.  This
              will typically include /usr/man.

       MANPATH_MAP path_element manpath_element
              Lines of this form set up $PATH to $MANPATH mappings.  For
              each path_element found in the user's $PATH,
              manpath_element will be added to the $MANPATH.

       MANDB_MAP manpath_element [ catpath_element ]
              Lines of this form indicate which manpaths are to be
              treated as system manpaths, and optionally where their cat
              files should be stored.  This field type is particularly
              important if man is a setuid program, as (when in the
              system configuration file /usr/local/etc/man_db.conf
              rather than the per-user configuration file .manpath) it
              indicates which manual page hierarchies to access as the
              setuid user and which as the invoking user.

              The system manual page hierarchies are usually those
              stored under /usr such as /usr/man, /usr/local/man and

              If cat pages from a particular manpath_element are not to
              be stored or are to be stored in the traditional location,
              catpath_element may be omitted.

              Traditional cat placement would be impossible for read
              only mounted manual page hierarchies and because of this
              it is possible to specify any valid directory hierarchy
              for their storage.  To observe the Linux FSSTND the
              keyword FSSTND can be used in place of an actual

              Unfortunately, it is necessary to specify all system man
              tree paths, including alternate operating system paths
              such as /usr/man/sun and any NLS locale paths such as

              As the information is parsed line by line in the order
              written, it is necessary for any manpath that is a sub-
              hierarchy of another hierarchy to be listed first,
              otherwise an incorrect match will be made.  An example is
              that /usr/man/de_DE.88591 must come before /usr/man.

       DEFINE key value
              Lines of this form define miscellaneous configuration
              variables; see the default configuration file for those
              variables used by the manual pager utilities.  They
              include default paths to various programs (such as grep
              and tbl), and default sets of arguments to those programs.

       SECTION section ...
              Lines of this form define the order in which manual
              sections should be searched.  If there are no SECTION
              directives in the configuration file, the default is:

                     SECTION 1 n l 8 3 0 2 3type 5 4 9 6 7

              If multiple SECTION directives are given, their section
              lists will be concatenated.

              If a particular extension is not in this list (say, 1mh)
              it will be displayed with the rest of the section it
              belongs to.  The effect of this is that you only need to
              explicitly list extensions if you want to force a
              particular order.  Sections with extensions should usually
              be adjacent to their main section (e.g. "1 1mh 8 ...").

              SECTIONS is accepted as an alternative name for this

       MINCATWIDTH width
              If the terminal width is less than width, cat pages will
              not be created (if missing) or displayed.  The default is

       MAXCATWIDTH width
              If the terminal width is greater than width, cat pages
              will not be created (if missing) or displayed.  The
              default is 80.

       CATWIDTH width
              If width is non-zero, cat pages will always be formatted
              for a terminal of the given width, regardless of the width
              of the terminal actually being used.  This overrides

              This flag prevents man(1) from creating cat pages

BUGS         top

       Unless the rules above are followed and observed precisely, the
       manual pager utilities will not function as desired.  The rules
       are overly complicated.

COLOPHON         top

       This page is part of the man-db (manual pager suite) project.
       Information about the project can be found at 
       ⟨⟩.  If you have a bug report for
       this manual page, send it to  This page
       was obtained from the project's upstream Git repository
       ⟨⟩ on 2024-06-14.  (At that
       time, the date of the most recent commit that was found in the
       repository was 2024-06-07.)  If you discover any rendering
       problems in this HTML version of the page, or you believe there
       is a better or more up-to-date source for the page, or you have
       corrections or improvements to the information in this COLOPHON
       (which is not part of the original manual page), send a mail to

2.12.1                         2024-04-05                     MANPATH(5)

Pages that refer to this page: apropos(1)man(1)manpath(1)whatis(1)catman(8)mandb(8)