[lug] man pages in different distros

S.Coffin scoffin at comcast.net
Wed Oct 15 17:06:08 MDT 2003

>> Are the man pages throughout the various distributions consistent or do
>> they vary in content?  This came up the other day when a colleague was
>> getting some programs to run on a RH box.  He was having some trouble
>> getting sort to work right and came in my office complaining about the
>> lame sort man page when compared to the DEC sort man page.  I have to
>> agree that the DEC man page had way more info and examples than the
>> Linux man page.  I went to the meeting the other night and forgot to ask
>> about this.

Not at all consistent.  Of course UNIX, Solaris, and Linux man pages
will differ, and different versions of all these have different man
pages as well.  Also, the GNU project attempted to convert all the man
pages to "info" style, and consequently a lot of Linux man pages are
no longer worth much.  In fact on my RH9, the "sort" man page states
that "info sort" is the better documentation.

>> On sort...  My colleague was having trouble with the --key option.  We
>> got it working, but I'm wondering if there is a typo in the man page?
>> If I understand these things, the square brackets indicate optional
>> arguments, but in the description of --key the left bracket is
>> highlighted as if it's required.  To get it working we gave sort the
>> following argument <-k4n,4n>.  It didn't work with just <-k4n>.  Seemed
>> kind of strange to me since the second argument I believe is optional.

Well, of course the final decision is how the command actually works, not
what the doc says.  It is very possible that man pages have errors, and
there are more errors as you get further generations away from the AT&T
UNIX originals.  On my RH9 system, the command "sort -K4n" seems to work.

ps= Some of us were/are very offended that GNU attempted to dump the
perfectly usable "man" format for the clunky "info" style.  Not only
is the "info" user interface and texinfo source code inferior to the
old way, but also re-writing the man pages introduced many errors.

				GV Computing
				scoffin at comcast.net

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