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GNU units, but better
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The precedence of '*' has changed.  Use the --oldstar option to
restore the old behavior if necessary.  


GNU `units' converts between different systems of units.  It can
handle multiplicative scale changes.  It can also handle nonlinear
conversions such as Celsius to Fahrenheit (which may appear to be
linear but is actually affine).  

General installation instructions appear in the file `INSTALL'.  You
should be able to run `./configure' followed by `make'.  If you give
no options to configure, it will compile units to look for the units
data file in a standard location (probably /usr/local/share).  If you
try to use the program without installing you will need to use the
`-f' option.  If you don't want to commit to an installation location,
you can invoke configure by typing `./configure --enable-path-search'.
Then no path name will be compiled into `units' and it will search the
current directory and the directories listed in your PATH environment
variable to find the units data file.

The documentation is available in texinfo, roff, and text format.  The
man page is generated automatically from the texinfo documentation.
This man page produces readable results when run through nroff, but it
should probably not be printed with troff or groff---no effort has
been made to ensure that it prints out reasonably.  To generate a
printed manual, use `units.dvi' instead.

This program has the following incompatibilties with unix `units':
  * The '-' character is a subtraction operator rather than a multiply
      operator by default.
  * Exponentiation in numbers requires an `e', so you must write 2.5e-2
      instead of 2.5-2.
  * Prefixes are listed in the units file.
  * GNU `units' tries the -s, -es, and -ies plural forms.
  * The default output format is slightly different.
  * The units database is much larger and more informative, but with some
      differences. (e.g. `g' is for gravity in unix `units' and grams in
      GNU `units'.)  The comment character has been changed to `#'.

GNU `units' includes the following extensions:
  * Multiplication can be written with a `*' if desired.
  * Exponents can be written with `^' or `**' in units.
  * Exponents can be larger than 9 if written with `^' or `**'.
  * Sums of units can be converted.
  * The units data file is extensively commented. 
  * Units which measure reciprocal dimensions can be converted.
  * Parentheses for grouping are supported.
  * Funtions such as sin, cos, and log are supported.
  * Roots of units can be computed.
  * Nonlinear units conversions are supported. 
  * The result of the last calculation can be accessed with '@ans'


Marco Bernardini <> has written two units database
with Italian units.  One features units currently in use and the other
gives many old historic units.  Both files can be obtained from:


A Perl version was written by Bob Walton <> and can be
accessed either as a units converting web form or as perl source code

A Java version of units by Roman Redziejowski <>
is available on SourceForge at

GNU units has been ported to the pocket PC and given the name Quick
The author of the port can be reached at


Ideas the future (may or may not happen):

  * Bundle up the units conversion stuff into a library. 
  * Some kind of automatic script to update currency conversions
  * Inflation adjusted currency?
  * Allow multiple definitions of the same unit and resolve the
      correct definition by a conformability check.  (This has
      exponential growth behavior in the number of units typed in!)
  * When a nonconformable units error is given list units the user
      might have meant (e.g. britainpound for pound) by a
      conformability check and string pattern match of some sort. 
      "spelling advice"
  * Allow conversions to a list of units like "ft,in" or "in,1|8 in"
      which would report answers like "2 ft + 6.54 in".  
  * Allow some way of having units like '$' that don't require a trailing
      space so you can write '$5'.  This could be handled by having a 
      command in the units database that specifies units which automatically
      get a space inserted  after their name.   
  * Have a metacommand in the units datafile that specifies how plurals should
      be tried for this file.  This would allow expansion into other 
      languages.  (Of course, the real work of expanding into other languages
      is writing a units file that is appropriate for the language in question
      and includes local units.  It's not just a translation task.)
      Another thing that could be accomplished here would be translation of
      English words like "cubic" and "per" into their symbolic meanings.
      A command in the units file could indicate that "per" should be 
      substituted into a '/' and "cubic" means the cube the next unit.
      As it stands, "per" is hard coded into the parser.
  * Represent uncertainties in values in the database.



    This program owes a lot to Jeff Conrad who made many helpful suggestions,
    found numerous bugs, and helped me to find the definitions of obscure

    The documentation has greatly benefited from the suggestions made by
    Robert Chassell who kindly read several drafts.

    The following people have been particularly helpful in fixing portability
    problems: Kaveh Ghazi, Eric Backus, and Marcus Daniels.

Bug reports and suggestions for improvements should be sent to the author:
Adrian Mariano (  
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