Subject: ftp(1) man page
To: None <>
From: David H. Gutteridge <>
List: netbsd-docs
Date: 01/20/2004 16:06:36

A problem with the ftp(1) man page across the various Un*x systems I've used 
(NetBSD, OpenBSD, Solaris, Linux, HP-UX) is that the discussion of the 
macdef command is missing important information.  Specifically, although the 
man page notes that "there is a limit of 16 macros and 4096 total characters 
in all defined macros", it doesn't mention that macdef names are allotted a 
maximum of eight characters.  (Another way of putting it would be that only 
the first eight characters provide unique identification.)

It also doesn't note that macdefs have to be associated with a preceding 
machine definition (except for "init" I infer), and are not generically 
applicable to any machine definition (or indeed any session not associated 
with a machine definition).  One might possibly infer the latter point 
(which I find rather counterintuitive) from reading the .netrc-specific 
section on machine definitions, but it's very subtle.  (I literally wasted 
an hour trying to figure out why a colleague's .netrc file wouldn't work on 
Solaris 7 before I resorted to looking at the NetBSD implementation for 

I assume there's no central clearing-house for this sort of information 
anymore, rather, each of these flavours of Un*x used the same BSD 4.x man 
page and continue to do so without having updated it in a long time.  (Given 
all the flavours I listed above effectively provide the same man page...)

My question to the NetBSD developers is: do you agree the documentation 
should be updated to include these caveats?  (I don't see why not, but maybe 
there's something I'm missing.)  If so, I will provide a suggested patch for 
the man page.


David Gutteridge

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