Subject: Re: bin/7249
To: Mike Cheponis <>
From: Jim Reid <>
List: tech-kern
Date: 07/17/2000 21:57:27
>>>>> "Mike" == Mike Cheponis <mac@Wireless.Com> writes:

    Mike> The problem, of course, is that it's a single "flat file"
    Mike> type of man database.  If the man pages were html, with
    Mike> links to deeper documentation levels (even automatically
    Mike> generated documentation), that would be better.

Not better, just different. Some people like and want to be able to
read things without needing to have a computer swtich pixels on and
off so that the information can be seen.

    Mike> I propose junking man pages as we know them, keeping all
    Mike> documentation in html, and making the man command
    Mike> essentially a stripped-down lynx (or other specialized
    Mike> text-based browser).

What's *really* wrong with the printed word?

The idea of putting documentation only in HTML format is utterly
repulsive. [Let's not even consider the dubious arguments about
whether HTML is an appropriate medium for documentation or has the
required functionality.] Why should someone be forced to have to bring
up X and start a core-guzzling browser, *just to read some man page*?
The idea is nuts. [Don't forget that some netbsd platforms can't/won't
run X.] What next, require that browser to have sundry plug-ins, just
so the documentation can be read in whatever fad-of-the-month happens
to be in vogue today? Inventing a special lynx reader as an
alternative to that is just silly. The concept of man pages is not
broken IMHO, so it doesn't need fixing. And what if the man page you
want to read is for the web browser that you can't get to start or
display man pages properly? Putting all the man pages into HTML (and
only HTML) is about as sensible as putting them all into Word
format. In fact, Word format would be slightly better in some respects
because it does have some (admittedly flawed) concepts for supporting
document structure.

Note that I'm not against the idea of offering an HTML capability.
But this should be an extension - not a replacement! -  to the current
documentation that has served us so well for so long. If man pages
were good enough for Ken & Dennis, they should be good enough for you
and me.

Someone once said that if the only tool you had was a hammer, every
problem would look like a nail. Well, UNIX systems have more tools
available than a just web browser.