Subject: Re: bin/7249
To: Mike Cheponis <mac@Wireless.Com>
From: Tom Rushworth <>
List: tech-kern
Date: 07/17/2000 16:16:54
On Mon, Jul 17, 2000 at 02:17:25PM -0700, Mike Cheponis wrote:
> On Mon, 17 Jul 2000, Jim Reid wrote:
> > >>>>> "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.
> Ahhhh....
> >     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).

I still remember the first time I had a boot problem on Sun HW after
Sun switched to the "Answerbook".  I knew where the answers I needed
were, but the only way I could read them was to take the Answerbook CD
to another Sun system (several blocks away), read them there, come
back to the problem system, try something....

"man" format serves more than one purpose.  It contains information of
use when you want to program or install something new, from a working
system.  It also provides information of use when things are broken and
you are trying to get them working again.  For this second use, the less
you need to have running, the better.  I've read man pages with "ed", in
single user mode, with no nroff or pager available.

A better approach than "junking" man format would be to look at a way
to generate the HTML, or gnu info format, from the man format.  E.g. use
the nroff macros as indicators of structure or links.  The important
thing is that "man" has to come _first_, or you have lost your access
to the information on a crippled system.

Yes, I know HTML can also be "read" with ed.  What I'm saying is that
lynx has more components than man, and is thus more likely to get hit
when a system gets broken.  Keep the lifeboat function as simple as

Tom Rushworth