[TUHS] BSD manual set experience

Jeremy C. Reed reed at reedmedia.net
Thu Jun 18 05:53:05 AEST 2015

Prompted by another thread, I decided to share about some of my 
experience with providing printed BSD manuals.

I was given a 4.4BSD set with the understanding that I would work on 
preparing new print editions using NetBSD. It was a significant 
undertaking. I ended up just doing Section 8 System. Here is a summary 
of what I did:

- Build the NetBSD distribution (which gets the manual pages generated 
or at least put in place).

- Manual clean up, like remove a link to manual page that wasn't needed 
and remove a duplicated manual (in two sub-sections).

- Learned about permuted index (the long KWIC index cross-reference). 
Generated a list of characters and terms to ignore for building my 
permuted index. Wrote script to generate it, including converting to 
LaTeX using longtable. This resulted in 2937 entries and was 68 pages in 
printed book.

- Create list of all an section 8 pages, pruned for duplicate inodes.

- Also have a list of 40 filenames of other manpages to include in the 
man8 book. These are system maintenance procedures or commands that are 
in wrong section or could be section 8 (or weren't installed). (Examples 
are ipftest, pkg_admin, postsuper.)

- Generate a sorted list of all the manuals.

- Look for any missing manual pages. Script to check for libexec or sbin 
tools not in man8, such as supfilesrv or supscan is really supservers.8 
and missing kdigest.8. Get those files in place as needed. I cannot 
remember now, but I think I may have wrote some missing manuals or got 
others to submit some (officially).

- Script to make sure all man pages are in order. This found some 
duplicate manual pages with different inodes, wrong man macro DT values, 
wrong filename, wrong sections, etc. Some of these were reported 
upstream or fixed.

- Script to create the book as a single huge postscript file, then a 
PDF. Reviewed the possible ROFF related errors and warnings.
(On 2009-10-23, it was 1304 pdf pages from 572 manuals.)

- Script to figure out licenses. This was substantial! It looked for 
copyright patterns in manual source, excluded junk formatting like 
revision control markers, include some extra licenses that weren't 
included in the manpage itself (like GPL2). Then another script to 
generate LaTeX from the copyrights and licenses. It removed duplicate 
license statements and sorted the copyrights.  So some license 
statements had many copyrights using the same license verbiage.

This represented 620 copyrighted files with approximately 683 copyright 
lines and 109 different licenses. Yes 109! That resulted in 
approximately 68 printed pages, pages 1461 through 1529. This didn't 
duplicate any license verbiage. (I just realized that was the same 
length as my permuted index.)

A few things to note:  Some authors chose to use different names for 
different copyright statements. Some authors used their names or 
assigned the copyright to the project. Some licenses included software 
or authors names instead of generic terms. Many BSD style licenses were 
slightly changed with different grammar, etc. Many contributors created 
own license or reworded someone else's existing license text. As an 
example: "If it breaks then you get to keep both pieces." :)

The four most common license statements represented 113 "THE REGENTS AND 
CONTRIBUTORS" manuals, 75 "THE NETBSD FOUNDATION, INC." manuals, and 35 
"IBM" (aka Postfix) manuals, and 30 generic "THE AUTHOR AND 

I found many were missing licenses. I hunted down original authors, 
looked in CVS history, etc to help resolve some of these. I also 
reported about still missing licenses to the project. We will assume 
they meant it is open source and can be distributed since nobody has 
complained for years (even prior to my printed work) :)

- Generated a list of required advertising acknowledgments in LaTeX to 
import into one printed book (and for webpage).

- Split my long PDF into two volumes. Used LaTeX pdfpages package and 
includepdf to include the generated PDFs. I made sure the page numbers 
continued in the second book from end of previous volume. (After 
printing, I realized a mistake where the second volume had odd numbers 
on left pages, but order is still correct, so I assume nobody else 

Historically, the System Manager's Manual (SMM) also included other 
system installation and administration documentation (in addition to the 
manual pages). My work didn't include that documentation (some of which 
was unmaintained since 4.4BSD in 1993 and covers some software and 
features that are no longer included with NetBSD). That could be another 

I only did the SMM / manual section 8. I realized if I did all manuals, 
my book set would be well over ten thousand printed pages. The amount of 
work and initial printing costs would not be worth it with the little 
money it could bring in. It was certainly a learning experience, plus 
some benefit such as cleanup of some mandoc/roff code, filename renames, 
copyright/license additions, and manual pages added.

  Jeremy C. Reed

echo 'EhZ[h ^jjf0%%h[[Zc[Z_W$d[j%Xeeai%ZW[ced#]dk#f[d]k_d%' | \
  tr            '#-~'            '\-.-{'

More information about the TUHS mailing list