docs/55613: su man page confusing, probably incorrect

Gary W. Swearingen underway at
Fri Aug 15 20:50:12 UTC 2003

The following reply was made to PR docs/55613; it has been noted by GNATS.

From: underway at (Gary W. Swearingen)
To: Gregory Neil Shapiro <gshapiro at>
Cc: FreeBSD-gnats-submit at
Subject: Re: docs/55613: su man page confusing, probably incorrect
Date: Fri, 15 Aug 2003 13:44:38 -0700

 Gregory Neil Shapiro <gshapiro at> writes:
 > Clearly the -c in these examples is not pointing at a login class.  It is
 > pointing at a command to run.  Sure a later example gives the even more
 > confusing:
 >      su -c staff man -c `catman /usr/share/man /usr/local/man /usr/X11R6/man'
 > However, -c is never documented in the man page as pointing to a command
 > to run, which it in fact does do.
 That example actually contains a hint.  The syntax is
      su [-] [-flms] [-c class] [login [args]]
 so in all examples, "man" is the "login"** and the "-c" which follows
 "man" is the "args" (to the login shell).  The "-c" is documented in
 the "sh" (or is it "csh"?) manpages, on the assumption that the reader
 is using a shell which supports such a "-c" option.
 If it tripped you up, it could trip up others and should be improved.
 ** I almost wrote a PR once on that use of "login" in the syntax
 and description.  "user" (as used by "passwd"), "username",
 "user-name", "login-name" or almost anything would be better than
 "login", especially in the text where it should be even longer,
 like "user account name".  (The "login" "man" doesn't even log in. :)

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