whatis - database of online manual pages
The whatis file in each manual page directory is a database of titles for
manual pages. This database is used by man(1) to map titles to manual
pages names. The database is created by makewhatis(1) from the NAME
sections of the manual pages.
The NAME secions must be simple lines with no troff fluff but one
backslash like these two:
whatis \- database of online manual pages
cawf, nroff \- C version of the nroff-like, Amazingly Workable
These lines are transformed by makewhatis to these two lines for the
cawf, nroff (1) - C version of the nroff-like, Amazingly Workable
whatis (5) - database of online manual pages
As you can see they are in section number order, so that man searches
them in section order.
Each entry is just a single line, restricting the NAME section to a
single line too with just one dash, and commas and spaces before the dash
as you see above.
man(1), whatis(1), makewhatis(1), man(7).
It seems to be impossible for many manual page writers to keep the NAME
section simple. They also like to use every font available in their
documents. My simple scripts can't read their NAME sections, my simple
me can't read their texts.
Kees J. Bot (firstname.lastname@example.org)