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AIX Version 4.3 Commands Reference, Volume 1

confer or joinconf Command


Provides an online conferencing system.


confer [ [ - ] ~ ] [ -v ] [ -nName ] [ User ... | @ttyNumber ... | User@ttyNumber ... ]

joinconf ConferenceName


The confer command sets up an online, written conference among logged-in users on your local node. To begin a conference, enter the confer command at the command prompt.

If you specify the User parameter, the user may join the conference from any workstation. That user is notified of the conference at each workstation the user is logged in to. If you specify the @ttyNumber parameter, any user at the specified workstation may join the conference. If you specify the User@ttyNumber parameter, the specified user may join the conference only on the specified workstation.

If the users you specify are logged in and their workstations are writable, they may join the conference by typing the joinconf command on their command line. The joinconf command informs other conferees as each user joins the conference.

Note: Consoles and pseudoterminals (pts) may be specified with the @ttyNumber parameter.

The confer command gives each conference a unique name. By default, it has the name of the conference leader, with additional letters if necessary. The conference leader can override this default by specifying the -nName flag.

Unless the conference leader sets up a confidential conference by specifying the ~ (tilde) flag, the confer command makes a transcript of the conference. When a user leaves the conference, the confer command asks if the user needs a transcript. If so, the system mails the user a copy when the conference concludes. Any participant can make an off-the-record comment in a conference that is otherwise on the record by beginning the line with the ~ flag.

You can run shell commands from within a conference by prefixing them with a | (vertical bar) or an ! (exclamation point). The exclamation point causes the command to run normally; the output is displayed only at the workstation that runs it. The vertical bar causes the command and all of its standard output and standard error output to become part of the conference, visible to all conferees.


Once you join a conference, the text you enter at your workstation displays at all other workstations participating in the conference. You can end your participation in a conference by pressing the Ctrl-D key sequence. This action causes your user ID and the word BYE to be displayed at the workstations of the other conference participants. You will continue to see displayed conference contributions on your workstation until you are excused by each of the active participants.

Conference contributions are normally transmitted one line at a time. If the conference leader specifies the -v flag, transmissions are issued one character at a time. This mode sends all user typing errors and hesitations, and imposes a considerably larger load on the system.

Note: Contributions can contain multibyte characters.


To prevent confusion caused by several conferees typing at the same time, users should follow some agreed-on protocol. The following is one recommended protocol:


!excuse User ... | @ttyNumber ... | User@ttyNumber ... ]
                          Excuses the specified conferees or workstations from the conference. No further conference material is displayed at these workstations.
!~ Places all contributions from the user who issues the !~ subcommand off the record until the !~~ subcommand is issued.
!~~ Cancels a preceding !~ subcommand, placing the user's remarks back on the record.


-nName Assigns a name to the conference. The conference name is used by those users joining the conference so that they can access the right one. The name of the user who starts the conference is the default conference name. The Name variable cannot be more than 8 bytes long.
-v Transmits conference messages one character at a time.
~ Sets up the conference off the record. No transcript is recorded. A leading dash is optional with this flag.


  1. To start a conference with users jeanne and ron , enter:
    confer jeanne ron
    Running the confer command makes you the conference leader, so your login name is also the name of the conference. The confer command sends users jeanne and ron a message inviting them to join your conference and giving them the conference name.
  2. To specify workstations that can join the conference, enter:
    confer jeanne@tty5 @tty10 ron
    If user jeanne is logged in at workstations tty3 , tty4 , and tty5 , she can join the conference from workstation tty5 only. If user ron is logged in at tty7 and tty8 , he can join the conference from either tty7 or tty8 , or from both. The user logged in at tty10 is also invited to join the conference.
  3. The user at workstation tty10 decides not to join the conference started by the command in example 2. To excuse this user at tty10 from the conference, each active participant must enter:
    !excuse @tty10
    Although not actively participating in the conference, the user at tty10 sees the conference dialog on the workstation display until excused by each active conference participant.
  4. To join a conference named karen , enter:
    joinconf karen
    Any text typed becomes part of the dialog, prefixed with the name Karen , and displayed at each participant's workstation. Contributions by user Karen will also be recorded in the transcript of the conference.
  5. If user ron decides to join the conference from tty7 , the conference dialog is also displayed at his other workstation tty8 , unless everyone (including user ron ) enters:
    !excuse ron@tty8
    User ron should enter the !excuse subcommand from tty7 , the workstation he is using for the conference.
  6. To make a single-line statement off the record, enter:
    ~Coffee and donuts at my place.
    The confer command displays lines beginning with a ~ (tilde) at participants' workstations, but does not include them in the record of the conference.
  7. To make a multiple-line statement off the record, enter:
    Everyone is invited
    to my place after the conference
    for coffee and donuts.
  8. To run a shell command privately, without leaving the conference, enter:
    This action lists the current directory without including the li command or its output in the conference.
  9. To include the output of a shell command in the discussion, enter:
    |cat notes.conf
    This action lists the contents of the notes.conf file at each participant's workstation, and includes it in the conference record.
  10. To send command output to others, off the record, enter:
    cat notes.conf
  11. To leave the conference, press the Ctrl-D key sequence. If your user name is karen , after you press the Ctrl-D key sequence, the message [karen] BYE is sent to the other participants. The rest of the discussion continues to be displayed at karen 's workstation until each of the other participants enters:
    !excuse karen


/etc/utmp Contains a list of logged-in users.
/dev/tty?? Contains a list of workstation names.
/tmp/*.cnf Contains a list of user transcript files.
/tmp/*.mls Contains the transcript mailing list.

Related Information

The talk command, write command.

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