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Posted Jun 11, 2009 10:26 UTC (Thu) by eru (subscriber, #2753)
Parent article: Linux Mint 7 "Gloria"

Mint is encouraging the use of "RTFM", making it executable. The man command now has a link called rtfm.

Good that they give "man" the respect it deserves. Historically it has been the main thing that has kept unix-type systems approachable. Too bad that Linux systems today come with lots of commands with no man page at all (or with a totally obsolete one).

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Posted Jun 11, 2009 14:19 UTC (Thu) by sbergman27 (guest, #10767) [Link]

I've noticed that this has gotten generally better over the years. In particular, there is much better support for "man <configfilename>" than there used to be. (Doesn't Debian *require* man pages?)

Of those items that do seem to be missing man pages, commands related to the various DE's seem the worst offenders. Presumably, the DE's are so awesome that the user doesn't need man pages. Then again, if that's the case, they should probably just remove Konsole, Gnome-Terminal, etc. from the official packages.

One last note: 'info' and its authors should be taken out and shot.


Posted Jun 11, 2009 16:11 UTC (Thu) by boudewijn (subscriber, #14185) [Link]

Presumably and probably correctly, the authors of GUI applications assume
that users will find the "Help" menu item before they reach out for a
command line to type 'man' or figure out the '#' shortcut in KDE's minicli
(now, that's something that seems to have been lost in KDE4, the unified
manual/info/help shortcut). Konsole comes with a quite nice handbook --
although improvements are possible, of course.


Posted Jun 12, 2009 4:32 UTC (Fri) by eru (subscriber, #2753) [Link]

Presumably and probably correctly, the authors of GUI applications assume that users will find the "Help" menu item

This misses one of the most useful aspects of properly implemented "man": using it to discover what is available. Often I want do do something but don't quite remember what the relevant program is, so I type "man -k <subject>", and more often than not it comes up with useful suggestions. (Unfortunately, if TCL is installed, the output is often full of its functions, and man section selection does not work with "-k"; here is a thing to fix).


Posted Jun 12, 2009 8:46 UTC (Fri) by boudewijn (subscriber, #14185) [Link]

That's why the KDE help system also gives you the full contents of the help pages for all installed


Posted Jun 15, 2009 15:44 UTC (Mon) by ballombe (subscriber, #9523) [Link]

However KDE does not provides useful manpages (if at all).


Posted Jun 15, 2009 18:32 UTC (Mon) by boudewijn (subscriber, #14185) [Link]

Yes and? KDE is a gui environment and it provides manuals -- written to
the best of the abilities of the volunteer developers and writers --
available directly from the gui of the application.

That means that man pages are obsolete for KDE. man does not offer
anything useful that is not offered by a proper help system.


Posted Jun 16, 2009 6:01 UTC (Tue) by hppnq (guest, #14462) [Link]

man does not offer anything useful that is not offered by a proper help system.

man is a proper help system.


Posted Jun 16, 2009 7:17 UTC (Tue) by k8to (subscriber, #15413) [Link]

> man is a proper help system.

Yes, yes! A thousand times yes.


Posted Jun 16, 2009 7:28 UTC (Tue) by boudewijn (subscriber, #14185) [Link]

Yeah, full of useful features like... screenshots? hyperlinks? Give up, I'm as nostalgic and
conservative a Unix user as the next forty-year old, but man as a help system for gui applications
is just plain silly. We've got something better now and man is no longer a proper help system.


Posted Jun 16, 2009 12:26 UTC (Tue) by hppnq (guest, #14462) [Link]

Eh, what is your point? Manpages are integrated in KDE on multiple levels, like they should be. In the special case of applications with a GUI, there are very good reasons why they (should) have manpages: they have a CLI interface. RTFM.


Posted Jun 16, 2009 13:28 UTC (Tue) by nye (guest, #51576) [Link]

KDE comes with numerous commands which are entirely undocumented, including command-line-only ones. Typically these would be executed by other programs, but not always, and not always successfully. Plus when you are looking for a command without remembering exactly what it's called, and tab-completion gives you loads of options for undocumented binaries in your $PATH, it's really annoying. Having at least a description of what the program is for and what its options are would be rather more pleasant than using 'strings' on the binary.

I realise this argument is somewhat weakened by the fact that I cannot remember off-hand what commands I've had these problems with, but they are a contributing factor to KDE4 annoyance.

On a related note, are the GUI parts of KDE4 mostly documented these days? Last time I tried with the KDE4 docs they were a combination of missing, outdated, and useless (that's not just a KDE4 thing though: loads of apps in KDE3.x for years kept documentation for versions long since gone). I know for certain that there are parts of KDE4 where there are confusing options with absolutely no description of what they do (try getting some documentation on the desktop effects settings in systemsettings).


Posted Jun 11, 2009 21:00 UTC (Thu) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

info is awful, yes, but it's a format from the 1970s. *texinfo* is not
awful, nor are the other formats you can convert it into (HTML, PDF, et

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