Subject: Re: NetPBM man pages are arrogant, infuriating, nonfunctional. consider downgrading package.
To: None <carton@Ivy.NET>
From: Bryan Henderson <>
List: tech-pkg
Date: 07/27/2004 02:38:29
Thanks for taking the time to write down all that advice, but most of
it goes beyond the small amount of work I'm willing to donate for
this.  In particular, I'm open to spending some time to change the
install process or make files or instructions on a one-time basis.
I'm even open to changing all 300 documentation files so someone
else's automated process can handle them in the future -- I've done
that a couple of times.  But pretty much anything that enslaves me to
a bureaucratic process for as long as I continue to distribute Netpbm
is something I'm not going to sign up for.  If I have to update
several more files every time I add a program to the package or add an
option to a program, I will resist that.  If I have to add steps to
the process of creating a release of Netpbm, no thanks.  (It's not
just the time, it's the quality -- the more steps there are, the more
mistakes there will be).

That is why I maintain exactly one copy of documentation today (not
_entirely_ true -- I have a shadow on my development system where I edit
it, and I have a program that syncs it up to Sourceforge).

I would love to be able to do that with a public CVS repository, but
with the facilities I have (Sourceforge), I don't think I can -- not
without adding manual steps to let the web people get at it.

By the way, I'm completely aware that by refusing the bureaucratic
burden myself, I've placed it on redistributors such as NetBSD.  And
no, I don't think that's unfair.

A couple of points about your wishes for lists of the programs:

 - the URL in the snooty placeholder man page (unless I have a bug
   somewhere) is for the particular program in question -- what you
   see in the first 12 lines is the syntax of that command.  I don't
   think you really would prefer a list of all the programs there.

   I've heard there are people who can just click on that URL in man,
   but I don't know what tool you need to make that work.

 - The USERDOC file isn't intended to be installed, so I don't know
   what good a list would do there.  If the installer needs a list,
   I think his doing a wget and seeing what he gets is more fair than
   me having to manually maintain a copy of the list for him.

And about your NetBSD suggestions:

>   Alternatively maybe the man2web output can be captured and put in a
>   '/usr/pkg/share/man/cat<n>' page, and man2web not installed at all.

You mean the 'manweb' program that comes with Netpbm, right?  In any
case, this sounds a lot like what Fedora does -- there's a program
called "makecat" shipped with Netpbm that turns all the HTML into
"man/cat" pages.  It's a trivial thing that uses Lynx, and the cat
pages lose their bold/italic emphasis, but they apparently like it
better than the alternatives.  The instructions for that method are in
the USERDOC file.

Bryan Henderson                                    Phone 408-621-2000
San Jose, California