Subject: Re: Compiling NetBSD with another compiler.
To: Anders Magnusson <>
From: Thor Lancelot Simon <>
List: tech-userlevel
Date: 10/05/2007 13:11:31
On Thu, Oct 04, 2007 at 07:59:59PM +0200, Anders Magnusson wrote:
> Actually, I fixed the old nroff/troff back in 2002 so that it supported 
> most of the
> groff extensions (except .while).  I have the source code if someone 
> wants it,
> unfortunately I based it on 4.4 encumbered, but it should be trivial to 
> be constructive
> with diff to remove those additions.

The real problem is that there's no convenient way to use traditional roff
(as opposed to ditroff) to generate PostScript output, or output for the
other printers supported by our in-tree groff.  Adobe had a dreadful hack
that translated C/A/T typesetter language to PostScript but it's definitely
not open-source and it's just the wrong approach besides.

Unfortunately I think if you investigate the licensing on ditroff you will
find that it is a quagmire (done as a separate project _not_ under any of
the standard Unix licenses at AT&T, then with commercial rights sold to an
outside entity).  What would be needed to really replace groff without
losing functionality we actually use (e.g. man pages -> postscript) would
be a new ditroff implementation, in C, and a PostScript backend like grops.

That's a fair amount of work.  I wonder if it would be possible to run groff
through cfront and check _that_ in?  Unfortunately the resulting source code
would be basically unmaintainable.