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Other BSD and UNIX/UNIX-like Any other flavour of BSD or UNIX that does not have a section of its own.

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Old 11th July 2008
corey_james corey_james is offline
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Default Man pages obsolete?

With my unfortunate growing use of linux i'm noticing that man pages contain less and less useful information with several pages saying "see info page ".

Why the hell should i look in two locations to get information on a command?

What's the go with info pages and will man pages soon become obsolete?
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Old 11th July 2008
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i share your frustration with linux man-pages.

man pages are a handy quick reference. info was intended to be the opposite, ie. a comprehensive reference and as such IMO should complement the man pages and _not_ replace it.

i find man pages very useful on all *nix _except_ linux.

i guess there isn't much we can do about it other than complain.
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Old 11th July 2008
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They were an idea, not necessarily bad in theory, which was, I believe, from the Gnu folks. However, it seems that like much Linux documentation (and to be fair, at times, other docs) the people got tired of the idea in the middle and stopped.

There are some exceptions--ls is an example, where the info page is actually more detailed than the man page, but much of the time, if you go to the info page, you'll find that it's simply a duplicate of the man page with somewhat different formatting.

So no, they're not obsolete, even in Linux.

If I might, with no sarcasm, make a suggestion from my own experience--if you're used to BSD and are now in a Linux job, you can rant against it and let it tick you off, but it's self-defeating and will make you unhappy. You're better off looking at the advantages---more manufacturer hardware support, Flash 9, the fact that it's quicker to install rpms or use apt than it is to install from ports and the like, and then just concentrate on the applications.

Much of the time, that's where most of your work will be done, and working with say, postfix in Linux is like working with it in BSD.

Yes, when you're used to what most of us here consider the more logical BSD layout, the lack of bloat, etc., it can outrage you, but in the end, if your job is Linux, then you might as well enjoy it. Spending much of your time thinking, "This is horrible. WHY can't they use BSD?" is only going to make you grouchy.

You might even find, as I have, that it becomes like a family member of whom you're not all that fond--it's OK for you to insult it, but when other people do, you feel almost obligated to defend it.
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Old 11th July 2008
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One little addition to my earlier post, albeit a bit off topic. For those who do use Linux, please don't join a Linux forum, then make your first or second post a rant about how BSD is much better than Linux. It's fine to say you're used to BSD, and say, "I prefer it because...". Unfortunately, I saw this a few times on Fedora forums. Someone would ask a BSD question, I'd preface my answer saying that I should first state that *I* prefer BSD and then give my reasons.

However, once or twice, some fellow, no doubt frustrated like Corey James (and myself before I followed my own advice above) would more or less say what I had said, but had to add how horrible Linux was and either implicitly or explicitly say that only lamers used Linux. They'd then be called a troll. Often the response was, "Oh, typical Linux, someone points out the superiority of BSD and is called a troll."

(This also indicated to me that they hadn't followed the thread, as I'd usually said exactly what they'd said, leaving out the part that Linux users were losers.)

I should probably add that having come in contact with many very knowledgeable Linux folks, I certanly don't consider them losers.

Whereas, I'd often get responses to my posts like, thanks, I think I will try BSD, these posts saying how Linux is for newbies went a long way towards making others dislike the BSDs on principle. Insult someone and you've made a giant step towards closing their mind.
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Old 11th July 2008
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Hi.

There are situations where one might find oneself looking in three places for information in Linux.

For example, if you look at man sort, you get some information, but no examples. If you then turn to info sort, it's the same information. However, if you look at info coreutils sort, you'll find a more complete description and a number of examples. In some situations, there is even a fourth area, /usr/share/doc/package_related_name that contains information.

I suspect part of that is due to so many cooks, there being smaller groups associated with the BSDs. One exception is Debian, which has a well-developed set of policies, even though it seems to have a lot of developers.

I like the stability of the BSDs and Solaris, but they don't seem to add new ideas as quickly as I would like. There will always be tension between stability and improvement, and with the pace of change.

There is some consolidation going on now in the Linux world, and some of the discussions related to it center on that tension. Xandros may be currently the largest Linux vendor by virtue of the ASUS EEE laptop situation. Linspire was recently purchased by Xandros. In forums of both distributions, there is much unhappiness because both distributions seem very old compared to, say, Ubuntu. There are other factors at work, of course. A year or so ago, the Xandros community was vibrant -- at least the forum was very lively. Then came the agreement between Xandros and Microsoft. A few months later, when I visited the forum, often I was the only person there. Many people moved to http://www.pclinuxos.com/index.php and to http://loscompanion.com/forums/index.php .

I'm not sure how often changes come around in the BSD world, but it's not unusual for a lot of changes to be propagated in Linux. For example, in the Debian testing area (lenny), it is not unusual to have 25-50 packages updated in a week. Many people accept that situation, others prefer the more stable area (currently etch).

So, while I am often disappointed with the balance of that tension, I'm happy to have choices. With the popularization of virtualization, people can have their cake and eat it, too.

And so it goes ... cheers, drl
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Old 11th July 2008
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scottro - i was going to quote you but you write too much!!

I find linux more and more frustrating the deeper i get into it. Luckily my job requires me only to briefly touch on the internalsof linux, most of my work is just do some general unix maintenance tasks - analysing logs, system monitoring, scripting etc. The OS barely makes a difference to me in MOST situations.

I'm not going to turn this into a rant because i just don't have the energy for it and i'm too old to be bothering.

I'll just finish by saying it's disappointing to see linux become so popular when they are butchering what used to be a usable system. ( p.s this obviously isn't solely relating to info/man pages )
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Old 11th July 2008
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p.s the saying is "you can't eat your cake and have it too"
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Old 11th July 2008
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Hi.
Quote:
Originally Posted by corey_james View Post
p.s the saying is "you can't eat your cake and have it too"
Yes, but the modern version never made any sense to me:
Quote:
The phrase's earliest recording is from 1546 as "wolde you bothe eate your cake, and have your cake?" (John Heywood's 'A dialogue Conteinyng the Nomber in Effect of All the Prouerbes in the Englishe Tongue')[citation needed] alluding to the impossibility of eating your cake and still having it afterwards; the modern version (where the clauses are reversed) is a corruption which was first signaled in 1812.

Comedian George Carlin once critiqued this idiom by saying, "When people say, 'Oh you just want to have your cake and eat it too.' What good is a cake you can't eat? What should I eat, someone else's cake instead?".[citation needed]

Paul Brians, Professor of English at Washington State University, points out that the original and only sensible version of this saying is “You can’t eat your cake and have it too,” meaning that if you eat your cake you won’t have it any more. People get confused because we use the expression “have some cake” to mean “eat some cake,” and they therefore misunderstand what “have” means in this expression.[1] Alternatively, people understand that "have" and "eat" represent a sequence of actions, so one can indeed "have" one's cake and then "eat" it. Consequently, the literal meaning of the reversed idiom doesn't match the metaphorical meaning.

-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Have_on...and_eat_it_too
Best wishes ... cheers, drl
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Old 11th July 2008
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Info pages
When well conceived they are structured and you can navigate with links.
Linux "users", better say Firefox users or OpenOffice users are just able to click links in their browser. Hence many basic information comes in html "user guide" form.
Projects as http://tldp.org and http://manpages.courier-mta.org try to put a collection of man pages together.
But, mission impossible, this will neber include variants that coders at some distros consider as "improvements".

To mention: FreeBSD on-line man pages with a collection from many OSes.

Difference of culture:
Linux coders are happy if their GPL'ed applications do not break too often. Usual answer to a PR is the Microsoft styled "get the latest version". Man pages? Must get the code working first.

On OpenBSD, an application will not make it to the ports tree unless the man page is comprehensive. The team will first read the man page, then, eventually, have a look at the code.
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Old 13th July 2008
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Actually, I don't really like the links in info pages, especially since many projects use then excessively.

With a manpage I just hit / and type a search query, i.e. -r or recursive, it's easy to find what you want this way, even with large manpages like mplayer(1).
With info pages this is much more difficult ...

I also don't like the keybinds with info (EMacs style CTRL X Meta Y Shift j <string> to search), with man you can just use any pager you want, info has the pager integrated so you're forced to use whatever GNU tells you to use.
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Old 13th July 2008
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Ditto but the fact that I'm not much of an emacs user is probably why;-)


GNU documentation browser working like GNUs primary editor by default makes sense. The file format for creating the documentation for info however is much less painful then groff imho, less barriar to entry for moronic or busy developers I guess.


I personally *hate* writing manual pages as much as I hate using info pages to find documentation. Because of the format in the former case and the user interface of the latter case.

And it only took me the groff manual and source code to a few manual pages on FreeBSD to figure that out when writing one.
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Old 13th July 2008
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I love my man pages, OpenBSD does a good job at keeping them on par with current changes, one friend who has an account on my file server constantly asks me questions.. he's finally starting to read them, but his Linux experience has seriously robbed his trust of man pages.
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Old 14th July 2008
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Like many things Linux, it's a mixed bag. Plenty of manpages are sufficient, some are less than helpful, and a small handful are missing vital information.

This is one of the reasons I generally recommend picking a distro and remaining loyal to it. Learn its particular strategies and quirks; then document them for yourself, as needed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drl
I suspect part of that is due to so many cooks...
Ditto. It may be that the bazaar did not lend itself to cohesive documentation in this case.
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Old 14th July 2008
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To bad they can't fire a few programmers and rehire them as documentation writers.


Wait, that would be even worse 0.o
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