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Re: [Groff] Copyright notices in groff's man pages

From: Ingo Schwarze
Subject: Re: [Groff] Copyright notices in groff's man pages
Date: Sat, 4 Nov 2017 18:37:38 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.8.0 (2017-02-23)

Hi Werner,

Werner LEMBERG wrote on Sat, Nov 04, 2017 at 05:40:19PM +0100:
> Ingo Schwarze wrote:

>> In stdout and stderr, every unnecessary word is a very serious
>> nuisance, and two additional lines are hellish, they make stuff
>> scroll off the screen and bury the output i'm looking for in heaps
>> of crap.

> Please don't generalize too much.  groff is a filter, so it doesn't
> produce any additional output to stdout at all.

True.  In that sense, groff behaves nicely.  I only mentioned the
matter because Copyright in manuals and stdout/stderr are closely
related to each other.  Here is an extreme example of misbehaviour
(not the fault of anyone round here, mind you!):

  address@hidden $ egdb /usr/local/bin/troff
  GNU gdb (GDB) 7.12.1
  Copyright (C) 2017 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
  License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <>
  This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
  There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.  Type "show copying"
  and "show warranty" for details.
  This GDB was configured as "x86_64-unknown-openbsd6.2".
  Type "show configuration" for configuration details.
  For bug reporting instructions, please see:
  Find the GDB manual and other documentation resources online at:
  For help, type "help".
  Type "apropos word" to search for commands related to "word"...
  Reading symbols from /usr/local/bin/troff...(no debugging symbols 

Only the last line ("no debugging symbols found") matters, it
is well hidden, of excessive verbosity, and ought to read:

  $ fictional-egdb-version /usr/local/bin/troff
  /usr/local/bin/troff: no debugging symbols found

> However, if you explicitly call `groff --version', I *expect* a
> copyright and license notice.

Indeed.  If you choose to offer an --version option, i don't object
to verbosity in the resulting output at all:  The user asks for
information such as that provided by groff when giving this option.
We are on the same page here.

> Also note that your BSD point of view is probably different to what
> GNU and the FSF expect.

Maybe, for example, i wouldn't support --version in my own programs,
but it does no harm if somebody else's program supports it.

What matters here is that the section of the official info document
you quoted does not require Copyright and license information to be
displayed in manual pages, so from that perspective it seems OK for
Branden to go ahead.

>> Don't worry about the exact format.

> Yep.  However, having identical entries in all files makes gnulib's
> `update-copyright' script work better.

Sure, and consistency is usually good in general, and the format
recommended by the info document you quoted is a very good one.


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