5.5. /var/cache : Application cache data

5.5.1. Purpose

/var/cache is intended for cached data from applications. Such data is locally generated as a result of time-consuming I/O or calculation. The application must be able to regenerate or restore the data. Unlike /var/spool, the cached files can be deleted without data loss. The data must remain valid between invocations of the application and rebooting the system.

Files located under /var/cache may be expired in an application specific manner, by the system administrator, or both. The application must always be able to recover from manual deletion of these files (generally because of a disk space shortage). No other requirements are made on the data format of the cache directories.


The existence of a separate directory for cached data allows system administrators to set different disk and backup policies from other directories in /var.

5.5.2. Specific Options

fontsLocally-generated fonts (optional)
manLocally-formatted manual pages (optional)
wwwWWW proxy or cache data (optional)
<package>Package specific cache data (optional)

5.5.3. /var/cache/fonts : Locally-generated fonts (optional) Purpose

The directory /var/cache/fonts should be used to store any dynamically-created fonts. In particular, all of the fonts which are automatically generated by mktexpk must be located in appropriately-named subdirectories of /var/cache/fonts. [38] Specific Options

Other dynamically created fonts may also be placed in this tree, under appropriately-named subdirectories of /var/cache/fonts.

5.5.4. /var/cache/man : Locally-formatted manual pages (optional) Purpose

This directory provides a standard location for sites that provide a read-only /usr partition, but wish to allow caching of locally-formatted man pages. Sites that mount /usr as writable (e.g., single-user installations) may choose not to use /var/cache/man and may write formatted man pages into the cat<section> directories in /usr/share/man directly. We recommend that most sites use one of the following options instead:

  • Preformat all manual pages alongside the unformatted versions.

  • Allow no caching of formatted man pages, and require formatting to be done each time a man page is brought up.

  • Allow local caching of formatted man pages in /var/cache/man.

The structure of /var/cache/man needs to reflect both the fact of multiple man page hierarchies and the possibility of multiple language support.

Given an unformatted manual page that normally appears in <path>/man/<locale>/man<section>, the directory to place formatted man pages in is /var/cache/man/<catpath>/<locale>/cat<section>, where <catpath> is derived from <path> by removing any leading usr and/or trailing share pathname components. (Note that the <locale> component may be missing.) [39]

Man pages written to /var/cache/man may eventually be transferred to the appropriate preformatted directories in the source man hierarchy or expired; likewise formatted man pages in the source man hierarchy may be expired if they are not accessed for a period of time.

If preformatted manual pages come with a system on read-only media (a CD-ROM, for instance), they must be installed in the source man hierarchy (e.g. /usr/share/man/cat<section>). /var/cache/man is reserved as a writable cache for formatted manual pages.


Release 1.2 of this standard specified /var/catman for this hierarchy. The path has been moved under /var/cache to better reflect the dynamic nature of the formatted man pages. The directory name has been changed to man to allow for enhancing the hierarchy to include post-processed formats other than "cat", such as PostScript, HTML, or DVI.

[38] This standard does not currently incorporate the TeX Directory Structure (a document that describes the layout TeX files and directories), but it may be useful reading. It is located at ftp://ctan.tug.org/tex/

[39] For example, /usr/share/man/man1/ls.1 is formatted into /var/cache/man/cat1/ls.1, and /usr/X11R6/man/<locale>/man3/XtClass.3x into /var/cache/man/X11R6/<locale>/cat3/XtClass.3x.