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Re: [Groff] Unix Man Pages

From: Colin Watson
Subject: Re: [Groff] Unix Man Pages
Date: Sun, 9 Mar 2003 18:59:41 +0000
User-agent: Mutt/1.4i

On Sun, Mar 09, 2003 at 12:23:57PM +0000, John Poltorak wrote:
> With all this talk of Man Pages, I wonder if someone could help me out 
> with a problem or suggest where I could get help...
> Is there a single source for MAN which everyone uses?

No. John W. Eaton wrote a free man implementation back in 1990 or so,
which forked into two major distinct source trees about ten years ago;
by the time anyone realized there was parallel development taking place
the two had diverged too far (in design as well as implementation) to be
merged. GNU/Linux distributions are divided rather haphazardly between
the two. FreeBSD at least appears to use a version of the same code from
before the fork which they've since maintained themselves. I don't know
about other free operating systems.

> I've been trying to build man v1.5k which I've obtained here:-

The other (which I maintain nowadays) is:

The most onerous of its requirements will probably be Berkeley DB,
although GNU DBM or traditional DBM should work too. The other one
(maintained by Andries Brouwer) probably has fewer dependencies, as it
uses a flat-text whatis database rather than a database library. Last
time I looked the makewhatis script that built that database was a
shell/awk script.

> I'm not using a Unix environment, and have been unable to build MAN, 
> although I can build GROFF straight from the tarball without any problems.
> Is MAN much more closely linked to Unix rather than being geared up for 
> being built in a cross platform environment?

I don't know about Andries Brouwer's man, but it would not surprise me
in the slightest if man-db had several Unix assumptions. Certainly I've
never heard any non-Unix people expressing an interest in it before. I'd
be willing to work with you (private mail, I guess) to iron out those
assumptions if you can bring me sufficiently up to speed with your

> Does anyone know of any mailing list for discussing MAN?

To my knowledge, no such list exists.


Colin Watson                                  address@hidden

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