man command failed with exit status 3

Bug #1389682 reported by Eyad Salah
This bug affects 4 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
man-db (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

Whenever I run the command catman I get the following message:

command exited with status 127: /usr/lib/man-db/zsoelim | /usr/lib/man-db/manconv -f UTF-8:ISO-8859-1 -t ANSI_X3.4-1968//IGNORE | tbl | nroff -mandoc -Tascii | iconv -c -f ANSI_X3.4-1968 -t UTF-8//TRANSLIT | gzip -c7
catman: man command failed with exit status 3

ProblemType: Bug
DistroRelease: Ubuntu 14.10
Package: man-db
ProcVersionSignature: Ubuntu 3.16.0-24.32-generic 3.16.4
Uname: Linux 3.16.0-24-generic x86_64
ApportVersion: 2.14.7-0ubuntu8
Architecture: amd64
Date: Wed Nov 5 15:53:43 2014
InstallationDate: Installed on 2014-03-15 (234 days ago)
InstallationMedia: Ubuntu 13.10 "Saucy Salamander" - Release amd64 (20131016.1)
SourcePackage: man-db
UpgradeStatus: Upgraded to utopic on 2014-10-25 (10 days ago)

Revision history for this message
Eyad Salah (eyad-salah) wrote :
Revision history for this message
Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

Status changed to 'Confirmed' because the bug affects multiple users.

Changed in man-db (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
Revision history for this message
jdb2 (jonathanbusby) wrote :

Same problem here :

man: command exited with status 127: /usr/bin/zsoelim | /usr/lib/man-db/manconv -f UTF-8:ISO-8859-1 -t ANSI_X3.4-1968//IGNORE | tbl | nroff -mandoc -Tascii | iconv -c -f ANSI_X3.4-1968 -t UTF-8//TRANSLIT | gzip -c7
catman: man command failed with exit status 3

Changed in man-db (Ubuntu):
importance: Undecided → High
Revision history for this message
jdb2 (jonathanbusby) wrote :

Filed a bug report under the Linux Mint distribution as well. Also added bug to package "man-db"

The lauchpad URL for the Linux Mint bug report is :

Vlad Orlov (monsta)
tags: added: trusty
Revision history for this message
Niklas Larsson (unixinfo) wrote :

This bug affects me:

$ man man
man: command exited with status 3: /usr/lib/man-db/zsoelim | /usr/lib/man-db/manconv -f UTF-8:ISO-8859-1 -t UTF-8//IGNORE | preconv -e UTF-8 | tbl | nroff -mandoc -rLL=225n -rLT=225n -Tutf8

I think its because I uninstalled all manpages before to save disk space.

Revision history for this message
Howard (uliptical) wrote :
Download full text (23.4 KiB)

Hi. Affects me too. Gets started ok (see listing below).

Here are some more details:

1) man 8 catman says:

           An alternate or FSSTND compliant global index database cache."

But I'm not seeing that /var/catman is getting created, and not anywhere, root nor home, i.e.

# find / -name catman #gives just the binary:

2) Using snapper (w/ btrfs), i.e. snapper -c root create : snapper -c root list: snapper -c root status n..m, I'm not seeing that any man files are even being touched.

3) Here's the full output w/ error at bottom:

# catman

Updating cat files for section 1 of man hierarchy /usr/share/man
2to3-2.7, 2to3-3.5, 411toppm, 7z, 7za, 7zr, FBReader, Mail, Xorg.wrap, a2ping, a2query, a2x, ab, aclocal-1.15, aconnect, acpi, acpi_available, acyclic, add-apt-repository, addftinfo, afm2afm, afm2pl, afm2tfm, afmtodit, al, al2, aleph, alien, allcm, allec, allneeded, alpine,, alsabat, alsactl, alsaloop, alsamixer, alsaplayer, amidi, amixer, amstex, androiddump, animate, animate-im6.q16, anjuta, anjuta-launcher, annotate-output, ant, any2djvu, anytopnm, apg, apgbfm, aplay, aplaymidi, apm_available, applycal, appres, appstreamcli, apropos, apt-extracttemplates, apt-file, apt-ftparchive, apt-listchanges, apt-sortpkgs, aptitude-create-state-bundle, aptitude-run-state-bundle, arch, archpath, arecordmidi, aria_chk, aria_dump_log, aria_ftdump, aria_pack, aria_read_log, arlatex, arm2hpdl, ascii-xfr, asciidoc, asciitopgm, aseqdump, aseqnet, asn1parse, aspell, aspell-import, assistant-qt4, at, atktopbm, attr, autoconf, autogen, autogsdoc, autoheader, autoinst, autom4te, automake-1.15, autoopts-config, autopoint, autoreconf, autoscan, autosp, autoupdate, average, avr-man, avrdude, b2sum, banshee, base32, base64, basename, bash, bashbug, bbox, bc, bccmd, bcomps, bdftopcf, bdftruncate, bibdoiadd, bibtex.original, bibtex8, bibzbladd, bin_dec_hex, bioradtopgm, birdfont, birdfont-autotrace, birdfont-export, birdfont-import, bison, bison.yacc, blueman-adapters, blueman-applet, blueman-assistant, blueman-browse, blueman-manager, blueman-report, blueman-sendto, blueman-services, bluemoon, bluetooth-sendto, bluetoothctl, bmptopnm, bonobo-activation-server, bootctl, brasero, broadwayd, brushtopbm, bsd-from, bsd-mailx, bsd-write, bt-adapter, bt-agent, bt-device, bt-network, bt-obex, btattach, btmon, btrbk, bts, btscanner, build-rdeps, bundledoc, busctl, busybox, bzdiff, bzexe, bzgrep, bzip2, bzmore, bzz, c2050, c2ph, c44, c89-gcc, c99, c99-gcc, ca,, calc_tickadj, calendar, calibre, calibre-debug, calibre-fontconfig, calibre-parallel, cancel, capinfos, capsh, captoinfo, cardos-tool, caspol, cat, catchsegv, catdoc, catppt, cb2ti3, cb_console_runner, cb_share_config, cbm, ccache, cccheck, ccomps, cctiff, ccxxmake, cd-create-profile, cd-fix-profile, cd-it8, cdeftutorial, cdrdao, cert2spc, certmgr, certtool, cgdb, chacl, chage, chardet, chardet3, chartread, chattr, chcon, chdist, che...

Revision history for this message
Howard (uliptical) wrote :

oops sorry, forgot all of this:

 OS: GNU/Linux Debian 9.6 (x86-64);
 Cinnamon desktop: 3.2.7;
 Linux Kernel: 4.9.0-8-amd64;
 Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo P8800;
 Graphics Card: AMD/ATI RV710/M92 Mobility Radeon HD 4530/4570/545v

Revision history for this message
Neal McBurnett (nealmcb) wrote :

The symptom I see on Ubuntu 18.04 is running

 $ man -H man

and getting

man: command exited with status 3: (cd /tmp/hman6RgU0i && /usr/lib/man-db/zsoelim) | (cd /tmp/hman6RgU0i && /usr/lib/man-db/manconv -f UTF-8:ISO-8859-1 -t UTF-8//IGNORE) | (cd /
tmp/hman6RgU0i && preconv -e UTF-8) | (cd /tmp/hman6RgU0i && tbl) | (cd /tmp/hman6RgU0i && groff -mandoc -Thtml)

As described by at
manpage - How do I make man pages open in a web browser? - Ask Ubuntu

a workaround for this bug is to install the groff command.

The man command should be fixed to discover this and print a suitable error.

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