[TUHS] Project Idea: The UNIX Programmer's Manual: Heritage Edition

segaloco via TUHS tuhs at tuhs.org
Wed Sep 20 11:26:47 AEST 2023

> I'd start with groff.
> So I'm a little off topic but if people wanted to work on that, I'd be
> up for that project. It's not as big as what you are saying but it's
> pretty big, I think we just start with something, see if we can get
> debian/ubuntu to pick it up, lather, rinse repeat. In fact if we
> just get the groff project to pick up our stuff, all the distros will
> get that eventually.
> --
> ---
> Larry McVoy Retired to fishing http://www.mcvoy.com/lm/boat

That's an excellent point, the beauty of UNIX being a granular system is that such an effort wouldn't need to be a "start at page 1 and finish at page whatever", but could be done piecemeal.  Groff would also be a great candidate due to the preponderance of supporting secondary papers, like the NROFF/TROFF manual, different macro definitions, etc.  That does then get into the prospect of the secondary papers too, likewise excellent references to this day on a number of subjects that I personally would love to have modernized versions of.

Well if anyone catches wind of such a project kicking off in some way elsewhere, know that I'm certainly interested in what I can contribute.  What my work towards this eventual goal will probably continue to look like for now though is just doing my diff analysis of manual versions, as one of my principle goals there was to identify the apparent last common ancestor of Research, PWB, and BSD lineages, at least as far as documentation is concerned.  Common sense would just say research V7 but there are little tidbits here and there between V6 and V7 that don't show up in other places, just tiny little nuanced things for the most part.  I haven't done this part of the analysis at all but a causal glance at a 32V manual diffed with a V7 manual reveals some changes that don't appear to be related to the portability work.  But I'm not going to comment on that further without analysis to back it up, just some anecdotal observations at present.

> Why (and when) did GNU drop the HISTORY section from its man pages?
> Adam

Did GNU ever have a HISTORY section?  I just plucked a couple books off the shelf, I don't see HISTORY in the V10, 4.4BSD, or SVR4 books, so probably a later invention in the BSD line that didn't get picked up by other UNIX-likes?  Looking at a few illumos manpages, they also don't appear to have a HISTORY section.  They appear to be there on macOS, probably as a result of the FreeBSD origins of macOS user space.  That said, I also appreciate the HISTORY section, it's tipped me off to things to study that I didn't know on a few occasions.

- Matt G.

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