list of built-in tools

Polytropon freebsd at
Sat Sep 30 20:14:55 UTC 2017

On Sat, 30 Sep 2017 06:48:46 +0100, Steve O'Hara-Smith wrote:
> On Fri, 29 Sep 2017 22:17:27 +0200
> Polytropon <freebsd at> wrote:
> > On Fri, 29 Sep 2017 16:12:18 -0400, Ernie Luzar wrote:
> > > Looking for a list or index of all the basic system utilities.
> > > 
> > > Like uniq, rev, tr and so on.
> > > 
> > > Are they documented someplace?
> > 
> > Implicitely documented - "ls /usr/bin". ;-)
> 	Better ls /usr/share/man/man1

This is "which tools are documented", not "which tools are
actually present". On FreeBSD, it effectively doesn't make
a difference due to the excellent documentation situation,
but it might be surprising on Linux. ;-)

> > On the web, there are several blog pages or texts on Github
> > which explain how to use this kind of tools, but FreeBSD does
> > not (as far as I'm aware of) contain a kind of list that covers
> > text processing tools provided by the OS.
> 	This is one of the longest standing weaknesses of unix
> documentation, there are no entry points.

There are some "section entry points", typically called "intro",
such as "man 1 intro", but it covers general aspects of the
section, often in a short manner.

> Somebody should make a simple
> index page of all the commands with a one liner description and a man page
> - bonus for splitting them by category.

This can be automated with tools like apropos, and then an
output filter that generates groff source for the manpage.
Do you know the xman program? It has an interactive chooser
for section and individual manual page.

What I'd think would be helpful would be a topic-oriented
summary page - as you suggested with a one-liner that quickly
describes each entry - for each "practical topic", such as
an imaginary (for now) "man textproc". It can be discussed
in how far such a manpage could be partially auto-generated
and if it should be part of the OS or a port.

The system already contains "meta-manuals" that do not
describe a single program, file, or interface, but instead
describe processes and "bigger constructs", for example
"man release".

Magdeburg, Germany
Happy FreeBSD user since 4.0
Andra moi ennepe, Mousa, ...

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