Subject: Re: bin/7249
To: Mike Cheponis <>
From: Jim Reid <>
List: tech-kern
Date: 07/18/2000 11:43:06
>>>>> "Mike" == Mike Cheponis <mac@Wireless.Com> writes:

    Mike> On Mon, 17 Jul 2000, Greywolf wrote:
    >> On Mon, 17 Jul 2000, Mike Cheponis wrote:
    >> # If the man pages were html, with links to deeper
    >> documentation levels (even # automatically generated
    >> documentation), that would be better.
    >> Sure.  EVERYone can run an X connection through their firewall,
    >> right?


You implied it. You suggested scrapping man pages and turning them
into HTML. [An amazingly stupid and badly thought-out idea.] HTML is
unreadable mush unless it's fed to GUI. That means X on a UNIX system.
The fact that you made this suggestion shows the depths of your
ignorance and cluelessness about documentation. You seem to think
there's nothing wrong with using an X server and a web browser - two
of the chubbiest applications on a UNIX system - just so someone can
get a readable version of a man page. This is utterly nuts. You don't
even appreciate just how stupid that idea is. Then you proposed a
custom lynx-like utility, which is an even more stupid idea. What if
someone wants to read man pages in single-user mode. Or - perish the
thought! - read them on paper without having to start a computer.

    Mike> Ahh, perhaps you haven't noticed, but when you do "man foo"
    Mike> it often says "man: Formatting manual page..."  as it grinds
    Mike> away... If you type "lynx README.html" in one of the
    Mike> /usr/pkgsrc/<whatever> directories, it snaps up instantly.

    Mike> So it looks like I've shot down the "performance"
    Mike> argument...

No. It looks like you didn't install preformatted man pages. Or allow
the man command to install preformatted versions on the fly.

    Mike> Another cool thing about html-based documentation is that
    Mike> not only can it trivially use local files, but it can also
    Mike> access data over the net; this can be helpful for small
    Mike> systems that have a net connection but do not want to waste
    Mike> local disk space for doc, or as a place where documentation
    Mike> updates are placed.

This is a valid, but fallacious argument. What if the user's computer
isn't on the net? [Suppose someone's working when they're in a plane
or train.] Why does someone's computer have to somehow be plugged in
to the phone system, just so they can read a man page? Have you any
idea how nonsensical that is? Or what if that computer has a low-speed
internet link? Why should someone have to depend on so many
unnecessary diversions just so they can read a man page? And what if
the man page they need to read is the one describing their PPP daemon
or its config files? Suppose these things are broken and you're
trying to find out how to get them working again: how do you access
the documentation? You just don't get it, do you?