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Re: General complaint about GNU's preference for "info" versus "man"

From: Eli Zaretskii
Subject: Re: General complaint about GNU's preference for "info" versus "man"
Date: Sat, 22 Apr 2006 14:29:15 +0300

> Date: Sat, 22 Apr 2006 10:28:15 +0200
> From: Stepan Kasal <address@hidden>
> On Fri, Apr 21, 2006 at 01:56:26PM -0700, address@hidden wrote:
> > Man pages should be complete and should also be the primary source of 
> > online documentation, [...].  I have been a Unix user since 1990, [...]
> I understand your feelings.  And yes, I use man pages as a reference
> manual, for the basic explanation of a tool.

Can you tell why you don't use "info --usage PROGRAM" for the same
purpose?  Just inertia, or something else?

> In ancient times, the GNU project tried to replace manpages by the info
> system.  Though this has some resonance among emacs users, in general the
> concept failed, and I think it's time to accept that manpages will exist
> forever, as Fortran will.  ;-)

This is not about accepting the existence of man pages: the Info
reader does display the man page if it cannot find the Info manual,
which is a clear proof that the facts of life are accepted.

This is about the basic superiority of the Info documentation, as you
yourself rightfully mention:

> But I think that the man format can not hold all the information.
> When Unix started, it was a bunch of simple programs, each of them was
> simple enough to be described in one page.
> But I'm afraid that things which don't fit this schema appeared very soon:

Etc., I agree with all your examples (and could provide quite a few
more, but I think the issue is clear).  This basic superiority of the
Info manuals is what the OP does not accept, without explaining why.

> BTW: I'd like to speak against help2man here: the above explains that
> man should have more information than --help.  help2man creates too
> terse manpage from too long --help.

I explained why: help2man is a lip service.  If you want the real
info, use "info --usage PROGRAM".

> So the problem is clear:
> how can one have one ultimate source for info, man and possibly also
> --help?
> I think that a well-written proposal could be of great help.

Texinfo already solves the info and man issue quite satisfactory
(although too many people don't know about that).  I don't know why
it's so important to have --help to come from the same source (e.g.,
ask Karl why some options of makeinfo and info are deliberately
omitted from --help), but if it is, a script that would extract some
of the Invocation node into a compilable .c file would not be too hard
to craft.

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