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

Clem Cole clemc at ccc.com
Wed Sep 20 12:09:51 AEST 2023


On Tue, Sep 19, 2023 at 6:39 PM Larry McVoy <lm at mcvoy.com> wrote:

> One of the projects I thought I'd do in my retirement, but haven't done,
> was to provide man page / paper as in "a paper", not tree paper, versions
> of all the GNU info stuff.  I could not be less thrilled with info, yeah
> there are ways to deal, but it just isn't as good (to me) as how Unix did
> docs.  It's like they want to force emacs on us to read docs.
> 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.
> The one drawback I see is people might want to provide info and man
> docs.  My personal preference is that the info stuff goes away but I
> have learned I don't get what I want.  So there may be a period of
> time where both need to be maintained.
> On Tue, Sep 19, 2023 at 08:32:15PM +0000, segaloco via TUHS wrote:
> > I haven't known when or how to bring up this project idea, but figure I
> might as well start putting feelers out since my Dragon Quest project is
> starting to slow down and I might focus back on UNIX manual stuff.
> >
> > So something painfully missing from my and I'm sure plenty of other
> folks' libraries is a nice, modern paper UNIX manual that takes the past
> few decades into consideration.  The GNU project, BSDs, etc. ship manpages
> of course, and there's the POSIX manpages, but I'm a sucker for a good
> print manual.  Something I'm thinking of producing as a "deliverable" of
> sorts from my documentation research is a new-age UNIX manual, derived as
> closely as possible from the formal UNIX documentation lineages (so
> Research, SysV, and BSD pages), but:
> >
> >     1. Including subsequent POSIX requirements
> >     2. Including an informational section in each page with a little
> history and some notes about current implementations, if applicable.  This
> would include notes about "dead on the vine" stuff like things plucked from
> the CB-UNIX, MERT/PG, and PWB lines.  The history part could even be a
> separate book, that way the manual itself could stay tight and focused.
> This would also be a good place for luminaries to provide reflections on
> their involvement in given pieces.
> >
> > One of the main questions that I have in mind is what the legal
> landscape of producing such a thing would entail.  At the very least, to
> actually call it a UNIX Programmer's Manual, it would probably need to pass
> some sort of compliance with the materials The Open Group publishes.  That
> said, the ownership of the IP as opposed to the trademarks is a little less
> certain, so I would be a bit curious who all would be involved in
> specifically getting copyright approval to publish anything that happened
> the commercial line after the early 80s, so like new text produced after
> 1982.  I presume anything covered by the Caldera license at least could be
> published at-cost, but not for a profit (which I'm not looking for anyway.)
> >
> > Additionally, if possible, I'd love to run down some authorship
> information and make sure folks who wrote stuff up over time are properly
> credited, if not on each page ala OWNER at least in a Acknowledgements
> section in the front.
> >
> > As far as production, I personally would want to do a run with a couple
> of different cover styles, comb bound, maybe one echoing the original Bell
> Laboratories UNIX User's Manual-style cover complete with Bell logo,
> another using the original USENIX Beastie cover, etc. but that also then
> calls into question more copyrights to coordinate, especially with the way
> the Bell logo is currently owned, that could get complicated.
> >
> > Anywho, anyone know of any such efforts like this?  If I actually got
> such a project going in earnest, would folks find themselves interested in
> such a publication?  In any case I do intend to start on a typesetter
> sources version of this project sometime in the next year or so, but
> ideally I would want it to blossom into something that could result in some
> physical media.  This idea isn't even half-baked yet by the way, so just
> know I don't have a roadmap in place, it's just something I see being a
> cool potential project over the coming years.
> >
> > - Matt G.
> --
> ---
> Larry McVoy           Retired to fishing
> http://www.mcvoy.com/lm/boat
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