What are "who parameters"? (man 8 renice)

Bob Proulx bob at proulx.com
Sun Oct 25 02:15:40 UTC 2020

Ottavio Caruso via freebsd-questions wrote:
> Can manual pages be more arcane and esoteric than this?

Yes.  But they don't know how! :-)

However the wording on that man page days *way* back many, many
years.  It's very old.  It appears to have arrived sometime between
2.9 BSD and 2.10 BSD sometime in the mid 1980's.

Compare this 2.9.1 BSD man page:


With this 2.10 BSD man page:


> % man 8 renice
> https://man.bsd.lv/FreeBSD-12.0/renice

The synopsys line is always useful.

    renice priority [[-p] pid ...] [[-g] pgrp ...] [[-u] user ...]
    renice -n increment [[-p] pid ...] [[-g] pgrp ...] [[-u] user ...]

> "The following who parameters are interpreted as ..."
> "-g
>     Force who parameters to be interpreted as process group ID's."
> "-u
>     Force the who parameters to be interpreted as user names or user ID's"

And then there is an example.

    Change the priority of process ID's 987 and 32, and all processes
    owned by users daemon and root.

    renice +1 987 -u daemon root -p 32

> "who" is underlined. Is it an acronym? I've seen this mentioned only in this
> man page on FreeBSD and NetBSD.

I think the original intention one was always affecting *other*
processes.  Some other target.  But back then one had a deeply
emotional bond with processes before renicing them.  First there was
coffee and then later maybe dinner.  Processes were humanized.  They
were not an "it" but a "who".  And so the document is asking "who" is
getting reniced?  Who being what process.  But here it is who is being
reniced.  And that is why it was worded that way.

> The OpenBSD manual page seems to to be saner:
> https://man.bsd.lv/renice

For the most part newer manuals mostly do rewrite that considerably
and now refer to those as process identifiers.


More information about the freebsd-questions mailing list