The unix "whois" command

(This information was extracted from the whois online help on 22 Feb-91 by TBL. Send questions, comments, bug reports on the whois product itself to BUG-WHOIS@NIC.DDN.MIL, user updates and corrections to REGISTRAR@NIC.DDN.MIL, other updates to HOSTMASTER@NIC.DDN.MIL.)

WHOIS is used to look up records in the main NIC database. Each record has a "handle" (a unique identifier assigned to it by the NIC), a name, a record type, and various other fields depending on the type of record.

To use WHOIS, simply type in your target string. The default action, unless directed otherwise with a keyword (e.g. "domain root"), is to do a very broad search, looking for matches to your target in many fields: handle, name, nicknames, hostname, net address, imp name, etc,and finding all record types.

WHOIS then shows the results in one of two ways: as a full, detailed display for a single match (with possible subdisplay), or as one- or two-line summaries for multiple matches. Often the search finds more records than just the one wanted. To look up a single, specific record, put a '!' before your target, which should be the handle of that record. In summary lines, the handle is shown in parenthesis following the name, which is first on the line. So, typing "!ABC" will look up the record whose handle is "ABC".

If you don't know what it is exactly you're looking for, you can do a "partial" search, meaning you will specify the partial target string, and everything STARTING with that target will be found. Put a trailing dot (or dots) after your text to indicate this. For example, typing "mack." will find "Mack", "Mackall", "Mackay", etc.

See the section " KEYWORD overview " for a description of the different types of keywords WHOIS takes.


Whois online help