Intro, intro - introduction to commands and application programs
This section describes, in alphabetical order, commands available with
this operating system.
Pages of special interest are categorized as follows:
Commands found only in the SunOS/BSD Compatibility Package.
Commands for communicating with other systems.
Commands associated with Form and Menu Language Interpreter
Commands specific to SunOS.
See the following sections of the SunOS Reference Manual for more
o Section 1M for system maintenance commands.
o Section 4 for information on file formats.
o Section 5 for descriptions of publicly available files and
miscellaneous information pages.
For tutorial information about these commands and procedures, see
Solaris Advanced User's Guide.
Manual Page Command Syntax
Unless otherwise noted, commands described in the SYNOPSIS section of a
manual page accept options and other arguments according to the follow‐
ing syntax and should be interpreted as explained below.
name [-option...] [cmdarg...] where:
Surround an option or cmdarg that is not required.
Indicates multiple occurrences of the option or cmdarg.
The name of an executable file.
The options and/or arguments enclosed within braces are
interdependent, such that everything enclosed must be
treated as a unit.
(Always preceded by a "−".) noargletter... or, argletter
A single letter representing an option without an
option-argument. Notice that more than one noargletter
option can be grouped after one "−" (Guideline 5,
A single letter representing an option requiring an
An option-argument (character string) satisfying a pre‐
ceding argletter. Notice that groups of optargs follow‐
ing an argletter must be separated by commas, or sepa‐
rated by a tab or space character and quoted (Guideline
Path name (or other command argument) not beginning with
"−", or "−" by itself indicating the standard input.
Unless otherwise specified, whenever an operand or option-argument is,
or contains, a numeric value:
o The number is interpreted as a decimal integer.
o Numerals in the range 0 to 2147483647 are syntactically rec‐
ognized as numeric values.
o When the utility description states that it accepts negative
numbers as operands or option-arguments, numerals in the
range -2147483647 to 2147483647 are syntactically recognized
as numeric values.
o Ranges greater than those listed here are allowed.
Command Syntax Standard: Guidelines
These command syntax guidelines are not followed by all current com‐
mands, but new commands are likely to obey them. getopts(1) should be
used by all shell procedures to parse positional parameters and to
check for legal options. It supports Guidelines 3-10 below. The
enforcement of the other guidelines must be done by the command itself.
1. Command names (name above) should be between two and nine
2. Command names should include only lower-case letters and
3. Option names (option above) must be one character long.
4. All options must be preceded by "−".
5. Options with no arguments can be grouped after a single "−".
6. The first option-argument (optarg above) following an option
must be preceded by a tab or space character.
7. Option-arguments cannot be optional.
8. Groups of option-arguments following an option must either
be separated by commas or separated by tab or space charac‐
ter and quoted (-o xxx,z,yy or -o"xxx z yy").
9. All options must precede operands (cmdarg above) on the com‐
10. "−−" can be used to indicate the end of the options.
11. The order of the options relative to one another should not
12. The relative order of the operands (cmdarg above) can affect
their significance in ways determined by the command with
which they appear.
13. "−" preceded and followed by a white space character should
only be used to mean standard input.
An expanded set of guidelines referred to as CLIP for Command Line
Interface Paradigm has been developed for Solaris and other Sun prod‐
ucts. Its intent is to provide a command line syntax more closely
aligned with the GNU command line syntax popular on Linux systems.There
is no intent to retrofit existing utilities or even to apply this to
all new utilities. It is only intended to be applied to sets of utili‐
ties being developed when appropriate.
CLIP is a full superset of the guidelines discussed above which are
closely aligned with IEEE Std. 1003.1-2001 (SUSv3). It does not include
all the GNU syntax. The GNU syntax allows constructs that either con‐
flict with the IEEE rules or are ambiguous. These constructs are not
The expanded CLIP command line syntax is:
utility_name -a --longopt1 -c option_argument \
-f option_argument --longopt2=option_argument \
--longopt3 option_argument operand
The utility in the example is named utility_name. It is followed by
options, option-arguments, and operands, collectively referred to as
arguments. The arguments that consist of a hyphen followed a single
letter or digit, such as -a, are known as short-options . The arguments
that consist of two hyphens followed by a series of letters, digits and
hyphens, such as --longopt1, are known as long-options . Collectively,
short-options and long-options are referred to as options (or histori‐
cally, flags ). Certain options are followed by an option-argument, as
shown with -c option_argument . The arguments following the last
options and option-arguments are named operands. Once the first operand
is encountered, all subsequent arguments are interpreted to be oper‐
Option-arguments are sometimes shown separated from their short-options
by BLANKSs, sometimes directly adjacent. This reflects the situation
that in some cases an option-argument is included within the same argu‐
ment string as the option; in most cases it is the next argument. This
specification requires that the option be a separate argument from its
option-argument, but there are some exceptions to ensure continued
operation of historical applications:
o If the SYNOPSIS of a utility shows a SPACE between a short-
option and option-argument (as with -c option_argument in
the example), the application uses separate arguments for
that option and its option-argument.
o If a SPACE is not shown (as with -f option_argument in the
example), the application expects an option and its option-
argument directly adjacent in the same argument string,
without intervening BLANKs.
o Notwithstanding the preceding requirements, an application
should accept short-options and option-arguments as a single
argument or as separate arguments whether or not a SPACE is
shown on the synopsis line.
o Long-options with option-arguments are always documented as
using an equals sign as the separator between the option
name and the option-argument. If the OPTIONS section of a
utility shows an equals sign (=) between a long-option and
its option-argument (as with --longopt2= option_argument in
the example), a application shall also permit the use of
separate arguments for that option and its option-argument
(as with --longopt1 option_argument in the example).
CLIP expands the guidelines discussed with the following additional
The form command subcommand [options] [operands] is appropriate
for grouping similar operations. Subcommand names should follow
the same conventions as command names as specified in guidelines
1 and 2.
Long-options should be preceded by -- and should include only
alphanumeric characters and hyphens from the portable character
set. Option names are typically one to three words long, with
hyphens to separate words.
--name=argument should be used to specify an option-argument for
a long-option. The form --name argument is also accepted.
All utilities should support two standard long-options: --ver‐
sion (with the short-option synonym -V ) and --help (with the
short-option synonym -? ). The short option synonyms for --ver‐
sion can vary if the preferred synonym is already in use (but a
synonym shall be provided). Both of these options stop further
argument processing when encountered and after displaying the
appropriate output, the utility successfully exits.
Every short-option should have exactly one corresponding long-
option and every long-option should have exactly one correspond‐
ing short-option. Synonymous options can be allowed in the
interest of compatibility with historical practice or community
versions of equivalent utilities.
The short-option name should get its name from the long-option
name according to these rules:
1. Use the first letter of the long-option name for the
2. If the first letter conflicts with other short-option
names, choose a prominent consonant.
3. If the first letter and the prominent consonant con‐
flict with other shortoption names, choose a promi‐
4. If none of the letters of the long-option name are
usable, select an arbitrary character.
If a long-option name consists of a single character, it must
use the same character as the short-option name. Single charac‐
ter long-options should be avoided. They are only allowed for
the exceptionally rare case that a single character is the most
The subcommand in the form described in guideline 1 of the addi‐
tional CLIP guidelines is generally required. In the case where
it is omitted, the command shall take no operands and only
options which are defined to stop further argument processing
when encountered are allowed. Invoking a command of this form
without a subcommand and no arguments is an error. This guide‐
line is provided to allow the common forms command --help, com‐
mand -?, command --version, and command -V to be accepted in the
Several of these guidelines are only of interest to the authors of
utilities. They are provided here for the use of anyone wanting to
author utilities following this syntax.
See attributes(5) for a discussion of the attributes listed in this
Sun Microsystems, Inc. gratefully acknowledges The Open Group for per‐
mission to reproduce portions of its copyrighted documentation. Origi‐
nal documentation from The Open Group can be obtained online at
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and The Open
Group, have given us permission to reprint portions of their documenta‐
In the following statement, the phrase ``this text'' refers to portions
of the system documentation.
Portions of this text are reprinted and reproduced in electronic form
in the SunOS Reference Manual, from IEEE Std 1003.1, 2004 Edition,
Standard for Information Technology -- Portable Operating System Inter‐
face (POSIX), The Open Group Base Specifications Issue 6, Copyright (C)
2001-2004 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc
and The Open Group. In the event of any discrepancy between these ver‐
sions and the original IEEE and The Open Group Standard, the original
IEEE and The Open Group Standard is the referee document. The original
Standard can be obtained online at http://www.open‐
This notice shall appear on any product containing this material.
SEE ALSOgetopts(1), wait(1), exit(2), getopt(3C), wait(3UCB), attributes(5)DIAGNOSTICS
Upon termination, each command returns two bytes of status, one sup‐
plied by the system and giving the cause for termination, and (in the
case of "normal" termination) one supplied by the program [see
wait(3UCB) and exit(2)]. The former byte is 0 for normal termination.
The latter byte is customarily 0 for successful execution and non-zero
to indicate troubles such as erroneous parameters, or bad or inaccessi‐
ble data. It is called variously "exit code", "exit status", or "return
code", and is described only where special conventions are involved.
Some commands produce unexpected results when processing files contain‐
ing null characters. These commands often treat text input lines as
strings and therefore become confused upon encountering a null charac‐
ter (the string terminator) within a line.
Nov 18, 2008 INTRO(1)