What use are these (rpm) entries in 'man'?

Mikkel L. Ellertson mikkel at infinity-ltd.com
Fri Nov 2 14:49:17 UTC 2007

Chris G wrote:
> Well, apart from not being very useful, it makes the man page for
> apropos (or man -k) wrong!
> When you do 'man apropos' it says:-
>     NAME
>          apropos, whatis - search the whatis database
>          apropos keyword ...
>          whatis keyword ...
>          apropos searches a set of database files containing short descriptions of
>          system commands for keywords and displays the result on the standard out-
>          put.  whatis displays only complete word matches.
>          keyword really is an extended regular expression, please read grep(1)
>          manual page for more information about its format.
>          The apropos utility exits 0 on success, and 1 if no keyword matched.
>     SEE ALSO
>          grep(1), makewhatis(1), man(1)
> Adding the (rpm) entries means that the whatis database is no longer a
> "set of database files containing short descriptions of system
> commands" because the things it puts in there are *not* system
> commands.
It looks like the apropos needs to be updated, because the whatis
database and the output of apropos has not been limited to just
system commands for years.

As far as not being useful, that depends on the user. It may not be
useful to you, but I find it handy when I can't remember the name of
the command I need, and it does not have a man page. I can still use
apropos to find it because of the (rpm) listing. I can also find out
what a command does using whatis, and because it is a (rpm) entry, I
know to try other things besides man to find information on it.
(info, /usr/share/doc/<package>, rpm, etc.)


  Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons,
for thou art crunchy and taste good with Ketchup!

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