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Man Page Project Can Now Use Official POSIX Docs 229

Posted by timothy
from the now-they-should-say-that-sco-cannot dept.
Martin_Sturm writes "The IEEE consortium announces in a recent press release that it granted permission to the Linux Man Page Project to incorporate material from the official documentation on the POSIX standard. Obviously this is very good news for the Man Page project which now has access to a huge amount of good documentation. Until recently the project could not use this documentation due to copyright restricions."
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Man Page Project Can Now Use Official POSIX Docs

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  • yay! (Score:2, Funny)

    I love my man! 3
  • bah! (Score:3, Funny)

    by monkey_jam (557265) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @07:20PM (#8077644)
    real *nix users dont need man pages!
    • Nope, GNU seems to think they need info pages more tho :(
      • Re:bah! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bersl2 (689221) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @07:38PM (#8077743) Journal
        Seriously, besides GNU, who else favors info over man? I find the system difficult to navigate. For instance, when I was first learning {,ba}sh... damn, the bash info page sucks.
        • Seriously, besides GNU, who else favors info over man?

          Leave it to GNU to create something clumsier than a man page for quick reference and less useful than HTML or PDF for large documents. Man pages are one area that OpenBSD, for example, got it right.
          • by aled (228417)
            I agree. I just can't stand info. Only useful thing is that the info files are plain text enough that I can search them. On the other hand I don't want to read again a man page for more than quick reference (ie: parameters names). Both methods are obsolete. What I really like is something like .chm. At least works for me.
        • Re:bah! (Score:5, Informative)

          by JoeBuck (7947) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @10:05PM (#8078522) Homepage

          The format is not info but texinfo, which produces output in many forms: TeX (for typeset documents), HTML, as well as info; furthermore, the man pages for many GNU programs are now produced by automatic conversion from the info source.

          Texinfo beats roff format for man pages because it supports structure and hyperlinks. XML (or SGML) formats are even better, but "man format" sucks. And I've written a lot of "man pages" in my career.

        • Actually, once one gets use to the info keybindings and way of doing things, it's quite nice. I couldn't live without the bash info pages (and I recall the old days of thumbing through ksh or csh man pages). It does take some getting used to, though. Part of that is due to the emacs-inspired keybindings; these were a lot more intuitive when emacs was more commonly used (I use it almost constantly, so to me this is no big deal); part due to info's origin as a pre-HTML hypertext platform.

          Considering all

        • Re:bah! (Score:2, Informative)

          by mullein (37149)
          Seriously, besides GNU, who else favors info over man? I find the system difficult to navigate. For instance, when I was first learning {,ba}sh... damn, the bash info page sucks.

          I always hated using info pages until I came across pinfo [dione.ids.pl], a colorized info/man viewer using arrow keys. That phrase is insufficient to describe its utility. It actually makes info pages useful! Debian has it in package repositories and I'd guess that other Linux distributions, perhaps BSDs, etc. package it.

    • I'm just happy I won't have to SSH to my OpenBSD machine to get some decent man pages anymore.
    • Yes we do.

      This reminds me, back on old-school unix dialects, there used to be a command learn that had short tutorials on different tools. You'd do

      learn vi

      and it'd start an interactive little course on it. And if you quit it, it would remember where you were so you could pick up where you left off. As I remember it, it was pretty cool. It had data in some vaguely troff-like format IIRC. Anyway, I haven't seen it around any linux or other modern boxes. Anybody know what happened to it, and where it came

  • by inertia@yahoo.com (156602) * on Saturday January 24, 2004 @07:20PM (#8077645) Homepage Journal
    It's evil because there's a deamon involved, and this command:
    $ man mount
  • Real Linux hackers do not use man! They look at the source and figure out how the program works from the command line!

    And back before we had all this open-schopen source, we had to decompile our programs so that we could figure out how it works.

    And before we had fancy-shmancy C/C++, we disassembled our programs and found out how they worked from there.

    And we liked it!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 24, 2004 @07:27PM (#8077684)
      Shhh ! You're gonna wake up one of these 3 digits slashdot ID elders. And you know how they love to speak about good ol'time...
      • You know, back in *my* day, we didn't have these fancy-schmancy SCSI cables to help us write our data to disk. No, in my day, we had to write it down using burnt sticks we pulled from smoldering camp fires. Then we ran across the savana, burnt stick and all. And when we got to our destination to write that data to disk, when we got an error, we had to run all the way back to our camp and yell out at the top of our lungs "WRITE ERROR! CHECK CONDITION!" Then we had to run all the way back just to get the
      • Shhh ! You're gonna wake up one of these 3 digits slashdot ID elders. And you know how they love to speak about good ol'time...

        Not to worry, it's fleet enema time at the ward.

        But wait, how do they get them to comply with said enema so easily you ask???

        Next time you see a nurse running down the ward hallway with a boom box, that's playing that God awful GNU/RMS tune, and there are whords of old geezers running after her with their Linux powered walkers....

        well kids, now you now, and it ain't pretty.
      • by JoeBuck (7947) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @09:59PM (#8078481) Homepage

        Sorry, four digits. But then, I did use the Arpanet before the Jan 1982 switchover to TCP/IP, so I am damn old.

        Today's man pages look almost the same as 1981 man pages from Bell Labs, so you haven't missed much by being young.

      • Saturday Night Live? If that sketch is what it sounds like, it was pre-Python. I forget who performed it originally (At Last, the 1948 show?), but it had some of the Python members in it, if I recall correctly.
    • Real Linux hackers do not use man! They look at the source and figure out how the program works from the command line!

      You may jest, but I've had to resort to this more than a few times, for programs with badly out-of-date man pages... Happily typing along, look up feature "foo", try using the --foo=bar switch, and then wondering why the hell I end up with 206 pages of seemingly-random garbage. Messy (and slow), but 100% effective in figuring out just what "foo" does.

      Apropos (no pun intended) of the act
    • Parent should have been modded "informative"!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 24, 2004 @07:25PM (#8077676)
    Do they have SCO's permission?
  • So now they are going to be packed with even more manly goodness?
  • However... (Score:5, Funny)

    by SnowZero (92219) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @07:31PM (#8077705)
    In return for the free content, all man pages will be required to incorporate ascii-art banner ads.
    • by plams (744927)
      would the ads be context sensitive? you know, adapt themselves to the user's preferences?

      > man mount

      * Do you realise that 10% of all males *
      * are GAY? * * * * K-Y-Jelly in K-mart *
      * * * * only $9.95!!!1!! * * * * * * * *

      NAME

      mount - mount a file system

      SYNOPSIS

      mount [-lhV]

      mount -a [-fFnrsvw] [-t vfstype] [-O optlist]
      mount [-fnrsvw] [-o options [,...]] device | dir
      mount [-fnrsvw] [-t vfstype] [-o options] device dir
      etc..
  • man, that's cool! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by adrianbaugh (696007) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @07:32PM (#8077713) Homepage Journal
    (Ahem.) I like man chiefly because the default (command-line) browser program doesn't suck quite so much. I'm sure there are technically superior ways to store documentation, but man is very readable. info, on the other hand, blows.
    • Re:man, that's cool! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 24, 2004 @07:36PM (#8077733)
      Try reading info pages with "pinfo" instead of "info" - you'll like info pages much more when you've got a decent viewer =)
      • > Try reading info pages with "pinfo" instead of "info" - you'll like info pages much more when you've got a decent viewer =)

        Woo, thanks for the tip! That's much better.
      • Re:man, that's cool! (Score:2, Interesting)

        by GammaTau (636807)

        Try reading info pages with "pinfo" instead of "info" - you'll like info pages much more when you've got a decent viewer =)

        Yeah, pinfo is definitely better than the default info viewer. The only problem with pinfo is that it's not really standard. If I log on to a system I'm not familiar with (and then I often really _need_ documentation), I can't be sure if "pinfo foo" will work whereas "man foo" will work with almost 100% certainity.

        Because it is pretty much guaranteed that man pages can be read o

      • Or just use "info:whatever" in Konqueror [kde.org]. Even doing "info:" will show you an index of Info pages. You can do the same trick with man pages: "man:whatever".
  • by compass46 (259596) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @07:38PM (#8077742)
    $ man cp

    "The UNIX man page system sucks. Use the info system instead."

    so...

    $ info cp

    "The UNIX man page system sucks. Use the info system instead."
    • by petabyte (238821) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @07:45PM (#8077780)
      Umm, both my slackware and gentoo boxes have a full man page for cp. Apparently they're from the fileutils package.

      I'd suggest everyone load up the funny-manpages and asr-manpages if you're bored.

      man lart
    • Hah hah. Now for a quote from a REAL man page:

      This man page is not kept up to date except when volunteers

      want to maintain it. If you find a discrepancy between the man page and the software, please check the Info file, which is the authoritative documentation.

      If we find that the things in this man page that are out of date cause significant confusion or complaints, we will stop distributing the man page. The alternative, updating the man page when we update the Info file, is impossible b

  • No more see info? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zsau (266209) <{ten.srehpargotraceht} {ta} {todhsals}> on Saturday January 24, 2004 @07:39PM (#8077748) Homepage Journal
    Does this mean no more cruel messages telling us to see the info pages?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If one more Slashbot makes a "DO U HAVE SCO'S PERMISSION? LOL" reference, I will touch your junk liberally.
  • How useful is this? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by A nonymous Coward (7548) * on Saturday January 24, 2004 @07:45PM (#8077785)
    Most man pages have long since been written from scratch for Linux. It would seem that any man pages still missing must be pretty rarely used, or for obsolete commands.

    There are differences between UNIXes and Linux distributions and BSD distributions. What do the POSIX man pages document, and is it more trouble than it is worth to use them as a basis for Linux man pages?

    I really don't know, this is not a troll, I didn't even know that there were POSIX man pages.
    • by dietz (553239) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @08:08PM (#8077904)
      I really don't know, this is not a troll, I didn't even know that there were POSIX man pages.

      There are no POSIX man pages. But previously they weren't allowed to even quote the POSIX standard in their manpages. They had to rewrite it all and hope they didn't introduce any inaccuracies in their rewriting.

      Now they can just quote the standard itself where they want to.

      This is mostly important for programming documentation (e.g. "man 3 strerror")
    • by matusa (132837)
      It's extremely useful for things like 'this glibc function deviates slightly from POSIX section xx.yy, which states:'

      Another good one is 'This extension[/odd syntax/whatever] is for compliance which POSIX section aa.bb, which states as follows:'

      (purposeful inconsistency.. boredom otherwise)
      • Oh yes! oh yes! At last I'll know what the f*** does all those @*#@!$@#! functions and constants and the like!
        Tell me that we also get solved those mistery man pages like "this program does what the program with the same name usually does in other (unspecified) (*nix or something) implementations, with the apropiate random desviations and platform dependent (unspecified) behaviour and programmer non-standard custom surprises"
        No? weeell it was too good to be, er... good.
  • by inertia@yahoo.com (156602) * on Saturday January 24, 2004 @07:47PM (#8077797) Homepage Journal
    They still need to improve the hideous grammar of the man pages:
    $ man nothing
    No manual entry for nothing
  • by Pyromage (19360) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @07:49PM (#8077806) Homepage
    I see a lot of people bitching about how info sucks. Well, you know what? Maybe it does. But have you actually tried to write a man page?

    The syntax for roff just sucks. Info, on the other hand, is a fairly reasonable way to write documentation.
    • You can generate postscript output for printing like this for example:

      man -t ls

      Don't know if this can be done with info?
      • Most info files are written using texinfo [gnu.org] which outputs various formats including Info, PDF and HTML. The hardcopy manuals sold by GNU Press [gnupress.org] come from the same source file as the softcopy documentation on your computer.

        (Texinfo is several years older than either PDF or HTML. If web browsers had already existed the GNU project probably wouldn't have invented info browsers.)

    • It does, but on the other hand it's fairly easy to take an existing man page, rip out all the content and replace it with your own. I did that for a small application I wrote when I couldn't be bothered to learn roff syntax properly and, although it's a bit of a cop-out, it's easy enough.
    • As a writer of two (1 [sourceforge.net], 2 [sourceforge.net]) man pages, I can say that I find the syntax of roff not that bad. I guess you get used to strange languages once you learn more of them. If you find roff hard, try writing Perl scripts without any alphanumerical tokens.
    • Use POD and pod2man (Score:3, Informative)

      by barries (15577)
      Yeah, it's trival: use POD. And pod2man. Or any other format you want (po2html, pod2text, etc) on almost any system with Perl on it. And integrate it in to your program as online help. And usage. And and and...

      Use the right tool, don't let the wrong tool use you.

      - Barrie

    • I see a lot of people bitching about how info sucks. Well, you know what? Maybe it does. But have you actually tried to write a man page?

      I have. The markup used by man ([gnt]roff -man, really) isn't that complicated. If you've ever used a non-WYSIWYG word processor or written your own HTML, throwing together a manpage shouldn't be that difficult to figure out. You should be able to figure out enough to get by just by looking at the system-provided manpages.

    • by KidSock (150684) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @08:57PM (#8078150)
      The syntax for roff just sucks.

      Try using XSLT to generate troff. The CStyleX package will let you generate concise troff macros for GNU style C programming interface man pages (just like the screenshot on this page):

      http://www.ioplex.com/~miallen/cstylex/ [ioplex.com]

      Actually the best part is that this will also generate HTML from the same source XML. And nothing prevents you from generting PostScript in the future or just about anything else for that matter. IOW you write XML run make and get man pages and HTML.

      PS: The package hasn't been updated in a while. The latest man.xsl and ref.xsl transforms are in the libmba package cited on the page referenced.
    • The syntax for roff just sucks. Info, on the other hand, is a fairly reasonable way to write documentation.
      So what? People read docs far more than they write them. roff may be hard to write but at least it's easier to read and navigate.
      • I'm going to have to disagree with you there. One, people don't write docs enough :) That's why there's a need for a man page project.

        Two, info has cross-references. A lot of things are easier to read in a format with links, like HTML, which texinfo can output to. Now, this doesn't mean that texinfo is the optimal format, but I think man is certainly *not* the optimal format.
    • I hate to tell you this, but those of us who predate TeX used *roff to write all sorts of things, including my dissertation. Writing elaborate man pages (e.g. with tables) is probably painful for anyone who doesn't already know *roff well, but most man pages require only a handful of macros and no understanding of how to write them or any of the other fine points.

  • by visualight (468005) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @07:58PM (#8077859) Homepage
    The most interesting point of this story is that the entire planet wasn't given permission to reprint the posix standard from day one. It's a standard isn't it?

    Isn't promoting standards one of the main reasons for the IEEE consortium's existance? How do you promote standards by not allowing anyone to reprint them?

    And the Linux Man Page Project expresses how grateful they feel. Whatever.
    • by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Saturday January 24, 2004 @08:22PM (#8077971) Homepage Journal
      Many standards organisations survive to a large extent on income generated by selling copies of the standards documents. It's only in recent years started becoming common for standards documents to be available free. Still, even now most ANSI and ISO standards for instance still costs money.
      • It's only in recent years started becoming common for standards documents to be available free. Still, even now most ANSI and ISO standards for instance still costs money.

        Indeed, and this makes it harder to write man pages to be distributed with free OS. Note that only the Linux project have a license, not everyone elses. Like Theo de Raadt of OpenBSD says : POSIX license [neohapsis.com]

        > Having POSIX in man page form might be a good thing.

        Let us stay realistic. They did not make their documentation free. Th

    • Standards, when published in print, are often sold for a heck of a lot of money. Take for instance the Unicode standard. It's an open standard, and quite important for internationalisation in our digital age, but you'll pay $74 to get it. When Linus was developing Linux, he had to get his POSIX information through Minix because it was too expensive to go right to POSIX.

    • No, standards organizations like to make money from the information they provide. Many (most?) are for profit enterprises.

      You can often get hold of free, electronic, copies of standards via university libraries.
  • by noselasd (594905) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @08:04PM (#8077886)
    Does that mean well get some docs on the pthreads rwlocks and posix semaphores ? Just yesterday I needed them, and sadly discovered they were missing ,(
  • Could this mean... (Score:2, Informative)

    by rhythmx (744978)
    the beginnings of Linux-3.0.0??? from Linux kernel readme:
    WHAT IS LINUX? Linux is a Unix clone written from scratch by Linus Torvalds with assistance from a loosely-knit team of hackers across the Net. It aims towards POSIX compliance.
    The next major version will be released when the new kernel will break support for almost all existing binaries. If all the kernel interfaces are tweaked and made to be posix compliant. We may be seeing the Linux-3.0.0 soon!
  • I don't understand what these "Man" pages are? Is this some sort or web pages of porn for women, is it gay? Is this trendy? Should I "like" or "groove" on "Man" pages?
  • Examples..... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nighty5 (615965)
    I find the lack of examples in man pages to be a real pain....Example take a look at the crontab manual, it would be nice to see how to formulate an example to place into the crontabs. You'll find such things in Solaris.
    • Re:Examples..... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Shadowlore (10860)
      Insightful?!?!?! It's dead wrong!

      I teach System Admin. Had a class this week in fact. Used the man page on crontab to do it, and it included examples right there in the manpage.

      EXAMPLE CRON FILE
      # use /bin/sh to run commands, no matter what /etc/passwd says
      SHELL=/bin/sh
      # mail any output to `paul', no matter whose crontab this is
      MAILTO=paul
      #
      # run five minutes after midnight, every day
      5 0 * * * $HOME/bin/daily.job >> $HOME/tmp/out 2>

  • POSIX standard onlin (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fredex (146162)
    The article says:
    Another was the recent decision to make the POSIX standard freely available on the Internet.
    but where are they "freely" available? I've just scored both ieee and open group websites and the best I can find is some PDF documents at prices beginning around $105 and going up. Not what I call freely available.
  • by An Anonymous Hero (443895) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @11:22PM (#8078921)

    (Since this [win.tue.nl] is [unc.edu] not [ibiblio.org] very [tldp.org] informative [win.tue.nl]:)
    RELEASE
    The Linux man page maintainer proudly announces. . .

    man-pages-1.65.tar.gz - man pages for Linux

    POSIX
    This release is the first to contain the POSIX 1003.1-2003 man pages. The directories man0p, man1p, man3p contain descriptions of the headers, the utilities, and the functions documented in that standard.

    Permission to distribute these POSIX man pages has just been obtained, and the pages in man0p, man1p, man3p were derived from the POSIX html pages by some silly conversion script. No doubt the result is still full of flaws, and all of this can be much improved. Corrections, scripts, etc. are welcome - aeb@<snip>.

    In order to use this, put in {/usr/share/misc/}man.conf{ig} or so your favourite order of looking at these pages, for example,
    MANSECT 1p:1:8:0p:3p:2:3:4:5:6:7:9:tcl:n:l:p:o
    or set the MANSECT environment variable.

    OTHER PAGES
    The remaining pages are most of the section 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 man pages for Linux, and in addition section 1 man pages for the fileutils-4.0 utilities, and section 5 and 8 man pages for the timezone utilities.

    [The latter were taken from ftp://elsie.nci.nih.gov/pub/tzcode2001a.tar.gz.] [The section 3 man pages for the db routines have been taken from ftp://ftp.terra.net/pub/sleepycat/db.1.86.tar.gz.] [The rpc man pages were taken from the 4.4BSD-Lite CDROM.]

    Differences from version 1.64:

    POSIX pages were added

    The man pages

    chroot.2 clone.2 intro.2 mkdir.2 remap_file_pages.2

    errno.3

    sk98lin.4

    elf.5 protocols.5 raw.7

    are new or have been updated. Typographical or grammatical errors have been corrected in several other places.

    Here is a breakdown of what this distribution contains:

    Section 0p = POSIX headers
    Section 1p = POSIX utilities
    Section 3p = POSIX functions

    Section 1 = user commands (intro, and pages not maintained by FSF)
    Section 2 = system calls
    Section 3 = libc calls
    Section 4 = devices (e.g., hd, sd)
    Section 5 = file formats and protocols (e.g., wtmp, /etc/passwd, nfs)
    Section 6 = games (intro only)
    Section 7 = conventions, macro packages, etc.
    Section 8 = system administration (intro only)

    Usually, there are no section 1, 6 and 8 man pages because these should be distributed with the binaries they are written for. Sometimes Section 9 is used for man pages describing parts of the kernel.

    Note that only Section 2 is rather complete, but Section 3 contains several hundred man pages. If you want to write some man pages, please do so and mail them to aeb@<snip>.

    The following people (listed in alphabetical order by first name) wrote, edited, or otherwise contributed to this project:

    <snip>

    Copyright information:

    For the POSIX pages permission to distribute was given by IEEE and the Open Group, see POSIX-COPYRIGHT.

    For the remaining pages, please note that these man pages are distributed under a variety of copyright licenses. Although these licenses permit free distribution of the nroff sources contained in this package, commercial distribution may impose other requirements (e.g., acknowledgement of copyright or inclusion of the raw nroff sources with the commercial distribution).
    If you distribute these man pages commercially, it is your responsibility to figure out your obligations. (For many man pages, these obligations require you to distribute nroff sources with any pre-formatted man pages that you provide.) Each file that contains nroff source for a man page also contains the author(s) name, email address, and copyright notice.
  • man pages for Linux? Next thing you know, Beastie will be ice skating...
  • If IEEE had made this POSIX documentation freely available 10 years ago, that would have helped the free software community a lot.

    Doing it now, after volunteers have painstakingly written >95% of the man pages from scratch, is almost irrelevant.

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