I have a minimal installation of CentOS 5.7 32-bit on a VM.

The apropos command always returns "nothing appropriate"

[root@localhost ~]# apropos man
man: nothing appropriate

Even after I run updatedb. It works on another CentOS server I have.

3 Answers 3


Try executing 'makewhatis' as root. That updates the man page database, and creates it if it doesn't already exist, which it may not on a fresh installation.

'updatedb' updates the database for 'locate', and probably isn't related to this issue.

  • 7
    If using CentOS7 the command 'mandb' has replaced makewhatis.
    – Kentgrav
    Jul 22, 2015 at 0:35
  • 1
    I have run mandb as root. and it works. Feb 18, 2018 at 7:34

sudo mandb solved the problem for me. It regenerates the apropos database, but you have to make sure you run it with sudo.

  • 2
    what and how, what did it do? Aug 27, 2019 at 3:24
  • Apparently it regenerates the apropos database. Answer modified.
    – RufusVS
    Aug 29, 2019 at 15:48

sudo mandb -c solved this issue for me on CentOS 8. The database needed to be created after a fresh install.

  • This answer has already been given twice. Apr 4, 2020 at 20:55
  • "sudo mandb -c" is the correct one, thanks. Already given onces are slightly different :)
    – izy
    May 6, 2020 at 0:08

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