FORTUNE(6) BSD Reference Manual FORTUNE(6)
fortune - print a random, hopefully interesting, adage
fortune [-aefilosw] [-m pattern] [[N%] file/dir/all]
When fortune is run with no arguments it prints out a random epigram.
Epigrams are divided into several categories, where each category is sub-
divided into those which are potentially offensive and those which are
not. The options are as follows:
-a Choose from all lists of maxims, both offensive and not. (See the
-o option for more information on offensive fortunes.)
-e Consider all fortune files to be of equal size (see discussion be-
low on multiple files).
-f Print out the list of files which would be searched, but don't
print a fortune.
-l Long dictums only.
-m Print out all fortunes which match the regular expression pattern.
See regex(3) for a description of patterns.
-o Choose only from potentially offensive aphorisms. Please, please,
please request a potentially offensive fortune if and only if you
believe, deep down in your heart, that you are willing to be of-
fended. (And that if you are, you'll just quit using -o rather
than give us grief about it, okay?)
... let us keep in mind the basic governing philosophy of The
Brotherhood, as handsomely summarized in these words: we be-
lieve in healthy, hearty laughter -- at the expense of the
whole human race, if needs be. Needs be.
--H. Allen Smith, "Rude Jokes"
-s Short apothegms only.
-i Ignore case for -m patterns.
-w Wait before termination for an amount of time calculated from the
number of characters in the message. This is useful if it is exe-
cuted as part of the logout procedure to guarantee that the message
can be read before the screen is cleared.
The user may specify alternate sayings. You can specify a specific file,
a directory which contains one or more files, or the special word all
which says to use all the standard databases. Any of these may be pre-
ceded by a percentage, which is a number N between 0 and 100 inclusive,
followed by a %. If it is, there will be a N percent probability that an
adage will be picked from that file or directory. If the percentages do
not sum to 100, and there are specifications without percentages, the re-
maining percent will apply to those files and/or directories, in which
case the probability of selecting from one of them will be based on their
As an example, given two databases funny and not-funny, with funny twice
as big, saying
fortune funny not-funny
will get you fortunes out of funny two-thirds of the time. The command
fortune 90% funny 10% not-funny
will pick out 90% of its fortunes from funny (the ``10% not-funny'' is
unnecessary, since 10% is all that's left). The -e option says to con-
sider all files equal; thus
is equivalent to
fortune 50% funny 50% not
4th Berkeley Distribution April 19, 1994 2