Multics 314 commands
05 May 1999


(Links are to the Multics Glossary.)

Here is a list of 314 Multics Standard Service System commands and active functions, from Multics Pocket Guide: Commands and Active Functions, Order No. AW17, April 1980, as of MR8.0.

Al Kossow has posted a scan of the entire Multics Programmer's Manual: Commands and Active Functions, AG92, (861 pages) as a 39MB pdf file.

abbrev (ab) command abbreviation
accept_messages (am) allow interactive messages
add_name (an) add a name to a directory entry
add_search_paths (asp) add a search path to a search list
add_search_rules (asr) add a search rule
adjust_bit_count (abc) set segment's bit count to include last char
AF after (af) return characters of a string after a specified argument
answer run a command and answer its questions
apl (v2apl) invoke APL language interpreter
archive (ac) combine segments
AF archive_table (act) return a list of segments in an archive
assign_resource (ar) assign a resource to the user process
attach_audit (ata) attach an I/O switch that keeps a copy in a multisegment file
attach_lv (alv) attach a logical volume to the user process
AF before (be) return characters of a string before a specified argument
AF binary (bin) return translation of an argument to binary base
bind (bd) produce an object segment from multiple object segments
AF bool perform boolean operations on arguments
AF branches return list of branches in a directory
AF calc perform simple calculations
calendar produce printable calendar
cancel_abs_request (car) remove absentee request from queue
cancel_cobol_program (ccp) cancel COBOL program from current run unit
cancel_daemon_request (cdr) remove I/O daemon request from queue
cancel_resource (cnr) cancel reservations made with the reserve_resource command
cancel_retrieval_request (crr) remove retrieve request from queue
canonicalize (canon) ensure that segment contents are in canonical form
AF ceil return smallest decimal number larger than its argument
change_default_wdir (cdwd) change default working directory
change_error_mode (cem) change verbosity of default error handler
change_wdir (cwd) change working directory
check_iacl list directory entries with ACLs that don't match initial ACL
check_info_segs (cis) list help segments that have changed (source)
close_file (cf) close a multisegment file
cobol invoke COBOL compiler
cobol_abs (cba) enter absentee request to compile a COBOL program
AF collate return 128-character collation string
AF collate9 return 512-character collation string
compare compare two segments in binary mode
compare_ascii (cpa) compare two segments in ASCII
AF contents return contents of a segment
convert_characters (cvc) translate characters in a segment
copy (cp) make a copy of a segment
copy_acl copy ACL of one directory entry to another
copy_cards (ccd) copy card image segments from system pool
AF copy_characters (cpch) return string with N copies of argument
copy_dir (cpd) copy directory
copy_file (cpf) copy multisegment file
copy_iacl_dir copy initial ACL for dirs of one directory entry to another
copy_iacl_seg copy initial ACL for segs of one directory entry to another
create (cr) create a segment
create_data_segment (cds) create an object segment with data definitions
create_dir (cd) create a directory
cumulative_page_trace (cpt) trace a program and display its paging actions
damaged_sw_off (dsf) turn off a directory entry's damaged switch
damaged_sw_on (dsn) turn on a directory entry's damaged switch
AF date return the date
AF date_compiled (dtc) return the date an object segment was compiled
AF date_time return date and time
AF day return day number
AF day_name return day name
debug (db) invoke low level debugger
AF decat return portions of an input string
AF decimal return an argument converted to decimal mode
decode decrypt an enciphered file
AF default return default values if none suppled
AF default_wdir (dwd) return default working directory
defer_messages (dm) hold printing of interactive messages
delete (dl) delete a directory entry
delete_acl (da) delete an ACL entry
delete_dir (dd) delete a directory
delete_iacl_dir (did) delete a directory initial ACL entry
delete_iacl_seg (dis) delete a segment initial ACL entry
delete_message (dlm) delete a held interactive message
delete_name (dn) remove a name from a directory entry
delete_search_paths (dsp) delete a search path from a search list
delete_search_rules (dsr) delete a ready message
detach_audit (dta) detach an audit I/O switch
detach_lv (dlv) detach a logical volume
p dial (d) connect a terminal to a running process
AF directories (dirs) return a list of directories
AF directory return directory portion of a pathname
discard_output (dco) run a command and discard its output
display_audit_file (daf) display an audit file
display_cobol_run_unit (dcr) list programs in the current COBOL run unit
display_pl1io_error (dpe) display most recent PL/I I/O error
AF divide return result of division
AF do execute a command, substituting arguments
dprint (dp) enter an I/O daemon print request in queue
dpunch (dpn) enter an I/O daemon card punch request in queue
AF dump_segment (ds) display a segment in ASCII
echo type input arguments
edm invoke ASCII text editor
emacs invoke ASCII text editor
encode encrypt a segment into enciphered form
p enter (e) log in as an anonymous user
enter_abs_request (ear) enter a request for absentee processing in queue
enter_retrieval_request (err) enter a request for file retrieve in queue
p enterp (ep) log in as an anonymous user, with password
AF entries return list of entries in a directory
AF entry return entry name portion of a pathname
AF equal test if two strings are equal
AF equal_name return a pathname constructed according to the equal convention
exec_com (ec) execute a list of commands from a segment
AF exists test if a file exists
expand_cobol_source (ecs) expand COBOL source
fast invoke the FAST (BASIC) subsystem
file_output (fo) redirect standard_output I/O switch to a multisegment file
AF files return a list of multisegment files in a directory
AF floor return the largest decimal number less than an argument
AF format_line (fl) return a formatted line
fortran (ft) invoke FORTRAN compiler
fortran_abs (fta) enter a request for absentee FORTRAN compilation in queue
gcos (gc) invoke GCOS simulator
AF general_ready (gr) change format of ready message
AF get_pathname (gpn) return pathname of an active segment
get_quota (gq) display storage quota for a directory
get_system_search_rules (gssr) get system ready messages
AF greater test if one argument is greater than another
p hangup hang up without logging in
AF have_mail test if a mailbox is empty
p hello repeat system greeting message
help display system information files (source)
AF hexadecimal (hex) return argument converted to hexadecimal base
AF high return string of \177 characters
AF high9 return string of \777 characters
AF home_dir (hd) return home directory pathname
AF hour return hour
how_many_users (hmu) display number of users logged in
if execute command line if a condition is met
immediate_messages (im) allow interactive messages to print
indent (ind) prettyprint PL/I source
AF index return location of one string in another
AF index_set return list of integers
initiate (in) assign a segment a segment number (make it known)
AF io_call (io) configure and operate on process's I/O switches
AF last_message (lm) return last interactive message text
AF last_message_sender (lms) return last interactive message sender
AF last_message_time (lmt) return last interactive message time
AF length (ln) return length of argument
AF less test if one argument is greater than another
line_length (ll) set terminal line length
link (lk) create a link
AF links (nonbranches) return list of links in a directory
list (ls) list a directory's contents
list_abs_requests (lar) list absentee request queue
list_accessible (lac) list directory entries accessible by a user
AF list_acl (la) display a directory entry's ACL
list_daemon_requests (ldr) list I/O daemon request queue
list_help (lh) list system help files (source)
AF list_iacl_dir (lid) display a directory's initial ACL for directories
AF list_iacl_seg (lis) display a directory's initial ACL for segments
list_not_accessible (lnac) list directory entries not accessible by a user
list_ref_names (lrn) list reference names for initiated segments (source)
list_resource_types (lrt) list types in a resource definition type table
list_resources (lr) list a process's assigned resources
list_retrieval_requests (lrr) list file retrieve request queue
p login (l) create a process for a user
logout destroy a user process and release terminal connection
AF long_date return long date
AF low return string of \000 characters
AF lower_case return argument mapped to lower case
AF ltrim return argument with blanks trimmed on left
AF lv_attached test if a logical volume is attached to the process
AF manage_volume_pool manage volume pool, assign and release scratch tapes
AF master_directories (mdirs) list master directories
AF max return largest value
memo invoke reminder management tool
merge invoke general merge tool
merge_ascii (ma) merge ASCII segments
AF min return smallest value
AF minus return result of subtraction
AF minute return minute
AF mod return result of mod function
p modes set terminal modes before login
AF month return month
AF month_name return month name
move (mv) move a directory entry to a new directory
move_abs_request (mar) move absentee request to new queue
move_daemon_request (mdr) move I/O daemon request to new queue
move_dir (mvd) move a directory to a new directory
move_quota (mq) move quota between directories
AF msfs return list of multisegment files
AF nequal test if arguments are unequal
new_fortran invoke new FORTRAN compiler
new_proc end this process and create a new one attached to this terminal
AF ngreater test if one argument is not greater than another
AF nless test if one argument is not less than another
no_save_on_disconnect set switch to discard process on hangup
AF nondirectories (nondirs) return list of non-directory entries
AF nonfiles return list of non-multisegment file entries
AF nonmsfs return list of non-multisegment file entries
AF nonnull_links (nnlinks) return list of non-null link entries
AF nonsegments (nsegs) return list of non-segment entries
AF nonzero_files (nzfiles) return list of nonzero multisegment file entries
AF nonzero_msfs (nzmfsfs) return list of nonzero MSF entries
AF nonzero_segments (nzsegs) return list of nonzero multisegment file entries
AF not return negation of its argument
AF null_links return list of null link entries
AF octal (oct) return argument represented in octal base
AF on execute a command line and catch signals
AF or return logical OR of arguments
overlay (ov) create segment that superimposes input segments
page_trace (pgt) trace paging activity
AF path return pathname of argument
AF picture (pic) return argument converted according to a picture
pl1 invoke PL/I compiler
pl1_abs (pa) enter request for absentee PL/I compilation in queue
AF plus return result of addition
print (pr) display segment or multisegment file on terminal
AF print_attach_table (pat) display process's I/O switch attachments
print_auth_names (pan) display sensitivity levels and compartments
print_default_wdir (pdwd) display default working directory
print_mail (pm) display mail in a mailbox
print_messages (pm) display interactive messages in a mailbox
print_motd (pmotd) display message of the day (source)
print_proc_auth (ppa) display process's sensitivity level and compartments
print_request_types (prt) display list of I/O daemon request types
print_search_paths (psp) display search paths
print_search_rules (psr) display ready messages
print_wdir (pwd) display working directory
probe (pb) invoke high-level symbolic debugger
AF process_dir (pd) return process directory pathname
profile (pf) execute a program and count each statement's execution
program_interrupt (pi) re-enter interactive program after QUIT
progress (pg) execute a program and indicate progress
qedx (qx) invoke ASCII text editor
AF query ask question in an exec_com
AF quotient return result of division
read_mail (rdm) read mailbox
ready_off (rdf) turn off ready message
ready_on (rdn) turn on ready message
release (rl) release suspended execution after QUIT
rename (rn) rename a directory entry
repeat_query (rq) reprint last query
reprint_error (re) display last error
reserve_resource (rsr) reserve resource for process
resolve_linkage_error (rle) specify object segment and entrypoint to use after linkage error
resource_usage (ru) display account's system resource quotas and usage (source)
AF response returns answer to a question
AF reverse (rv) returns a string in reversed order
AF reverse_after (rvaf) returns same as after, but in reverse order
AF reverse_before (rvbe) returns same as before, but in reverse order
AF reverse_index (rvindex) returns same as index, but in reverse order
AF reverse_search (rvsrh) returns same as search, but in reverse order
AF reverse_verify (rvverify) returns same as verify, but in reverse order
AF rtrim returns argument with blanks trimmed on right
run run a command in an isolated environment
run_cobol (rc) run a COBOL program
runoff (rf) format document for printing
runoff_abs (rfa) enter a request for absentee runoff formatting in queue
safety_sw_off (ssf) turn off a directory entry's safety switch
safety_sw_on (ssn) turn on a directory entry's safety switch
save_on_disconnect set switch to preserve process on hangup
AF search return leftmost position of specified chars in an argument
AF segments (segs) return a list of segments in a directory
send_mail (sdm) send an electronic mail message
send_mesage (sm) send an interactive message
send_mesage_acknowledge (sma) send an interactive message, request ack
send_mesage_express (smx) send an interactive message if user accepting
send_mesage_silent (sms) send an interactive message, no errors
set_acl set the ACL of a branch
set_bit_count (sbc) set a segment's bit count
set_cc set FORTRAN carriage control
set_fortran_common (sfc) set a process's FORTRAN COMMON storage
set_iacl_dir (sid) set a directory's initial ACL for directories
set_iacl_seg (sis) set a directory's initial ACL for segments
set_search_paths (ssp) set search paths
set_search_rules (ssr) set ready messages
AF severity return the exit status of the last command
p slave make a terminal available for use by another process
sort invoke general sort facility
sort_seg (ss) sort an ASCII segment
start (sr) restart interrupted execution after QUIT
status (st) display a directory entry's file system attributes
stop_cobol_run (scr) stop the current COBOL run unit execution
stop_run discard the current run environment
AF string return concatenation of all arguments
AF strip return filename argument with suffix removed
AF strip_entry (spe) return entryname argument with suffix removed
AF substr return specified substring of argument
AF suffix return last component of filename argument
AF system display system administration parameters
tape_archive (ta) maintain an archive of files on tape
p terminal_type (tt) set terminal type before login
terminate (tm) make a segment unknown
terminate_segment (tms) make a segment unknown given segment number
terminate_refname (tmr) make a segment unknown given its reference name
terminate_single_refname (tmsr) make a single reference name unknown
AF time return the time
AF times return result of multiplication
trace execute a command and trace subroutine calls
trace_stack (ts) display call history of interrupted execution
AF translate return replacement of some chars by others in argument
AF trunc return decimal value of argument with fraction truncated
truncate (tr) discard data in a segment past a given location
unassign_resource (ur) unassign a resource assigned to the process
AF underline return a value with underlining
AF unique return a unique character string
unlink (ul) remove a link from a directory
AF upper_case return an argument mapped to upper case
AF user display user registration parameters
AF verify return the location of first character of argument not in a list
vfile_adjust (vfa) adjust length parameters of a multisegment file
vfile_status (vfs) display file system attributes for a multisegment file
volume_dump_switch_off (vdsf) turn off a directory entry's volume dump switch
volume_dump_switch_on (vdsn) turn on a directory entry's volume dump switch
walk_subtree (ws) execute a command on every entry inferior to a directory
where (wh) use search rules to find a file (source)
where_search_path (wsp) use a specified search list to find a file
who display the names of users logged in (source)
AF working_dir (wd) return current working directory
AF year return year
AF zero_segments (zsegs) return a list of segments with zero bit count


  1. "AF" indicates that the command could also be called as an active function on a shell command line, by enclosing the command name in brackets. For example,

         ioa_ [date]

    This required special coding in the command to see if it was called as an active function and if so, to return a string value instead of writing on standard_output.

  2. "p" indicates a "pre-login" command. You could issue these commands when you first connected your terminal to the system. These commands were not implemented as separate programs, but rather as fixed request tokens interpreted by the Answering Service. There were several more such commands: 963, 938, and MAP for three.

  3. This is by no means all of the commands available on Multics.

    • This edition of AW17 was full of typos and omissions.
    • This list includes only Standard Service System (SSS) commands. These were the commands documented for general use. In addition, there were other libraries of commands:
      • system and project administrator commands
      • operator commands
      • system developer tools
      • author-maintained commands
      • unbundled commands, including those related to MRDS, compose, etc.
      • obsolete commands still used by many users

  4. Understand that this is a snapshot as of 1980. Commands were added, and others superseded or moved to non-SSS libraries, throughout the evolution of Multics. For example, sometime in the 1980s, dprint was replaced by enter_output_request (eor), a more symmetrical name. The dprint command continued to work, but was deprecated.