Question of setting environment variables - Slackware

This is a discussion on Question of setting environment variables - Slackware ; Responding to Beej Jorgensen: > Mike wrote: >>Yeah, I KNOW things can be converted/scripted/altered > > Read this as: you don't need a special reader because the data can be > converted into whatever format you want. > >>Why do ...

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Thread: Question of setting environment variables

  1. Re: Question of getting system/application information

    Responding to Beej Jorgensen:

    > Mike wrote:
    >>Yeah, I KNOW things can be converted/scripted/altered

    >
    > Read this as: you don't need a special reader because the data can be
    > converted into whatever format you want.
    >
    >>Why do we need a special reader for specially formatted documentation at
    >>all?

    >
    > Of course we don't "need" it. It's what's there and it works for a
    > great many people. Lots of browsers display man pages, too.
    >
    >>Be honest. If the man page format did not already exist, would anybody
    >>actually invent it today?

    >
    > No, it would be XML. It definitely would not be HTML.
    >
    > The current best solution would probably be use a man-to-Docbook
    > converter and go from there. If you think there's a need for
    > prepackaged man pages in XML, do it. Distribute it to anyone who wants
    > it.
    >
    > There's absolutely no one stopping you. Really!
    >
    > -Beej



    Good suggestions all, but missing the point once more.


    --
    *===( http://principiadiscordia.com/
    *===( http://www.badphorm.co.uk/
    *===( http://www.zenwalk.org/

  2. Re: Question of getting system/application information

    On Mon, 29 Sep 2008 10:49:19 GMT, Mike wrote:

    >Responding to Chick Tower:
    >
    >> On Sun, 28 Sep 2008 09:04:59 +0000, Mike wrote:
    >>
    >>> Responding to Sylvain Robitaille:
    >>>> What is a web-browser, if not a "specialist tool for specialist
    >>>> formatted documentation?"
    >>>
    >>> Web browser = common format
    >>>
    >>> Man reader = specialist format
    >>>
    >>> Web browser = in common use
    >>>
    >>> Man reader = one single purpose
    >>>
    >>> See what I'm looking at here?

    >>
    >> Not really, Mike. According to the man page on man, it uses less by
    >> default. You know, less, the general-purpose text viewer.

    >
    >
    >Just tried Seamonkey and Lynx to view the man man page.


    It's the ID ten T problem, methinks.

    Try: man -P cat man

    Grant.
    --
    http://bugsplatter.id.au/

  3. Re: Question of getting system/application information

    Responding to No_One:

    > On 2008-09-28, Mike wrote:
    >> Responding to Loki Harfagr:
    >>
    >>> On Sun, 28 Sep 2008 09:19:40 +0000, Mike sprout:
    >>>
    >>>> And all for just a text document with markup.
    >>>>
    >>>> So, my question has evolved into...
    >>>>
    >>>> * Why do we need a specialist reader/format for basic information?
    >>>
    >>> you don't, if you want to use the man page as straight text just
    >>> tells it so:
    >>> # man man -P cat
    >>>
    >>> you can even preset this and forget about it:
    >>> # export MANPAGER=/bin/cat
    >>>
    >>> but it's all nitcpicking with a hay fork, the dire problem with
    >>> manpages is not "how can we read them" but "can we read them" ;-)

    >>
    >>
    >> Yeah, I KNOW things can be converted/scripted/altered, but thats not
    >> the point of my question.
    >>
    >> Why do we need a special reader for specially formatted documentation
    >> at all? This is a legacy thing, and I suppose I'm arguing that its not
    >> only obsolete, but arguably time consuming and distracting for today's
    >> Linux user base.

    >
    > Explain why it's time consuming....why it's a distraction...saying so
    > doesn't make it so.
    >
    >
    >
    >> "We've always done it this way" doesn't cut the mustard when you've
    >> jobs waiting and need to fix something before something else happens as
    >> a result.

    >
    > The man reader prevents you from completing jobs....is that your point
    > here?
    >
    > I love to "hear" the explanation for this piece of rubbish.
    >
    >
    >
    > ken



    You appear to be looking for a flame here, and I'm not.


    --
    *===( http://principiadiscordia.com/
    *===( http://www.badphorm.co.uk/
    *===( http://www.zenwalk.org/

  4. Re: Question of getting system/application information

    Responding to Chick Tower:

    > On Sun, 28 Sep 2008 14:33:32 +0000, Mike wrote:
    >
    >> Be honest. If the man page format did not already exist, would anybody
    >> actually invent it today?

    >
    > Good point. We also need to reinvent zippers to notify our cell phones
    > via BlueTooth when they are not closed, to avoid that embarrassment.
    > Until that time, zippers are arcane, obsolete hardware that should not
    > be trusted. Codpieces are the only sane alternative.


    You got this the wrong way around.


    > To answer your question, yes, someone would invent man pages if they did
    > not already exist. Do you think they, and info pages, and their storage
    > formats, were invented simply as programming exercises not meant to meet
    > any real-world needs? The format might well be different, but they
    > would be easily readable and searchable via command-line utilities,
    > since they are intended to explain the use of command-line programs,
    > which are still important in the Unix, Linux, and BSD worlds. Graphical
    > programs have help systems of their own, with graphical interfaces.



    Not "invent man pages" but "invent the current man page reader".

    Keep up at the back will you!

    --
    *===( http://principiadiscordia.com/
    *===( http://www.badphorm.co.uk/
    *===( http://www.zenwalk.org/

  5. Re: Question of getting system/application information

    On Mon, 29 Sep 2008 10:25:22 +0000, Mike wrote:

    > I'm asking why this old way is still "the standard" and suggesting its
    > obsolete, only still there because of a cycle of old hands used to using
    > it, and newbies feeling as if they need to get up to speed with it as if


    I already answered this in another post, but here it is again: Not all
    *nix systems have a web browser available for viewing man pages, n00b.


    --
    "Ubuntu" -- an African word, meaning "Slackware is too hard for me".
    The Usenet Improvement Project: http://improve-usenet.org


  6. Re: Question of getting system/application information

    Responding to Grant:

    > On Mon, 29 Sep 2008 10:49:19 GMT, Mike wrote:
    >
    >>Responding to Chick Tower:
    >>
    >>> On Sun, 28 Sep 2008 09:04:59 +0000, Mike wrote:
    >>>
    >>>> Responding to Sylvain Robitaille:
    >>>>> What is a web-browser, if not a "specialist tool for specialist
    >>>>> formatted documentation?"
    >>>>
    >>>> Web browser = common format
    >>>>
    >>>> Man reader = specialist format
    >>>>
    >>>> Web browser = in common use
    >>>>
    >>>> Man reader = one single purpose
    >>>>
    >>>> See what I'm looking at here?
    >>>
    >>> Not really, Mike. According to the man page on man, it uses less by
    >>> default. You know, less, the general-purpose text viewer.

    >>
    >>
    >>Just tried Seamonkey and Lynx to view the man man page.

    >
    > It's the ID ten T problem, methinks.
    >
    > Try: man -P cat man
    >
    > Grant.



    This demonstates my point, that this needs to be done, and you need to
    know that it can be done, and then how to do it.

    If, for example, the documentation was in HTML/XML format by default, it
    could be converted into man format as required in the same way, from a
    common format to a prefered specialist format, but I strongly suspect
    that if the standard was browser-based and not based on a single-task
    specific application, browsers would aquire the extended functions to do
    the same things the man reader does ATM as part of their range of
    multiple functions.

    --
    *===( http://principiadiscordia.com/
    *===( http://www.badphorm.co.uk/
    *===( http://www.zenwalk.org/

  7. Re: Question of getting system/application information

    No_One wrote:

    >> Explain why it's time consuming....why it's a distraction...saying so
    >> doesn't make it so.

    ....
    >> The man reader prevents you from completing jobs....is that your
    >> point here?


    Mike replied:

    > You appear to be looking for a flame here, and I'm not.


    I think you missed the above, which appear to me, in fact, to be rather
    valid questions (ok, one is a request, not a question). Which part of
    "man" gives you so much trouble?

    You pointed out that if this format were to be created today, people would
    likely turn to HTML instead, and extend HTML-capable viewers to contain
    some of the same features as "man" (which, in fact, is a combination of
    nroff, or groff on Linux, and more, or "less" on Linux).

    The fact is the extensions to the HTML viewer(s) (plural because no one
    would want to be stuck *having* to use the same one as everyone else)
    would need to come first. That hasn't happened, so the manpage format
    is still considered the "best" approach to create manual pages. (people
    who want to use a different "viewer" can do so by setting environment
    variables; some even do.)

    The reason the markup is done the way it is has less to do with legacy
    than it does with the "do one thing and do it well" approach to doing
    things in Unix (after which Linux was modelled). Nroff/troff/groff and
    related utilities are document formatting programs. They don't "care"
    what the final display device will be, but rather do their thing on data
    fed to them on input, and spit the result out their standard output.
    That's why "more" (less on Linux) is used to provide a screen-by-screen
    display. HTML-capable viewers are not particularly known for doing one
    thing only, let alone doing it well.

    You have repeatedly argued that this approach "echoes the M$ way of
    imposing more complications than are necessary on the end user, ...."
    I would argue that dumbing the system interface down to the point that
    everything just looks like a web-page is EXACTLY the "M$ way of imposing
    more complications than are necessary on the end user," under the guise
    of superficially appearing simpler.

    You make the argument that "Every little thing needing it's own app, with
    it's own set of function keys, mindset. logics, flags, etc." is a form af
    "app-creep", and that "a single killer-app", though not many would think
    of the idea, is your vision. That sounds to me like going towards the
    "M$ way of imposing" limitted flexibility on the end user. Some people
    like the idea of sending a formatted manual page to a display device
    other than their screen, by piping the standard output of the "man"
    program to (for example only) lpr. You need to read the Lynx manual
    page ("man lynx") to figure out how to do the same with Lynx ("lynx
    -dump ... |lpr"). I have absolutely no idea how you might do the same
    with, say Firefox as your HTML viewer.

    You tell Jim Diamond to lay off the sarcasm, yet you tell Grant to "miss
    a turn." Who's being sarcastic, hmmm?

    My conclusion here is that you're not looking to actually solve any
    specific problem, except perhaps that you have trouble grasping the idea
    of "press the spacebar to see the next screenful". You appear to be
    looking for an argument for its own sake. If you truly wanted to solve
    the "why do manpages have their own format for which we need a specific
    viewer" problem, you would already have created the necessary extensions
    to an HTML viewer, such as lynx, and be proposing its use instead, even
    if as a proof of concept.

    --
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Sylvain Robitaille syl@alcor.concordia.ca

    Network and Systems analyst Concordia University
    Instructional & Information Technology Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

  8. Re: Question of getting system/application information

    Mark Madsen wrote:

    > Hypertext replaced Gopher? Damnation, why wasn't I told?!
    > When did that happen, anyway?


    When was the last time you accessed a Gopher server to find any
    information? My bet is that it's been a while ...

    --
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Sylvain Robitaille syl@alcor.concordia.ca

    Network and Systems analyst Concordia University
    Instructional & Information Technology Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

  9. Re: Question of getting system/application information

    Mike wrote:

    >>>> That's the problem with newbies: they want everything to be a web
    >>>> page ...

    >
    > .... It was an assumption, and it was wrong.


    I think the only assumption being made about the above statement is the
    one you're making. It was an observation, perhaps even a
    generalization, but not an assumption.

    > T'were only a suggestion. There are other options. My point was that
    > multi-use tools can do the same job. No need for a specialist reader
    > with it's own special format and own special documentation.


    The "special reader" used to display manual pages amounts to a
    combination of a document formatter (which can do much more than format
    manual pages for display), and a "pager" (whose purpose in life is to
    display plain-text on its input, one screenful at a time). The "special
    format" you refer to is used as much to typeset documents (in fact, I
    believe that was its original purpose) as it is to markup manual pages
    for display. This stuff is no more "specialist" or "single-purpose"
    than HTML is or ever was. The only real difference at this point, is
    that everyone and his dog knows how to create HTML, even if they need to
    use a WYSIWYG interface to do it. The nroff/troff format doesn't
    require any more specialized knowledge to create (or read) than HTML
    does.

    >> Why weren't you demanding answers to those very questions when
    >> hypertext was threatening to replace Gopher???

    >
    > html is a better multi-purpose option.


    You were sure of that in the mid-nineties? Frankly, I'm not sure of it
    NOW.

    > If somebody can't write up some development code to extend the functions
    > of commonly used applications like file managers and html browsers, then
    > we might as well sign up for Vasta.


    If you've written the patches, I'm willing to apply them and try them
    out ...

    --
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Sylvain Robitaille syl@alcor.concordia.ca

    Network and Systems analyst Concordia University
    Instructional & Information Technology Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

  10. Re: Question of getting system/application information

    Mike wrote:
    >Responding to Beej Jorgensen:
    >> No, it would be XML. It definitely would not be HTML.

    >
    >Good suggestions all, but missing the point once more.


    How's that? It looks like you were saying that having a "special"
    reader (man) for an uncommon "special" format (troff) was unnecessary
    when everyone had a web browser right there.

    Instead, you proposed HTML, which is suboptimal because its not
    necessarily XML, it uses a presentational tags, and it imposes no
    consistent structure on the document. XHTML is better, but only because
    it's XML.

    Some well-defined XML and a CSS stylesheet seems like the near-perfect
    solution for this issue.

    * Works on 99% of all web browsers out there (even elinks supports it to
    a certain extent--probably enough to render man pages)

    * Uses logical tags instead of presentational tags; can add man-page
    specific structure

    * XML is even more general purpose than HTML, and is very easily
    converted into other formats, including PDF or XHTML, by a zillion
    tools in a zillion languages.

    * Can be easily programatically updated for some changes in the XML spec

    * Can be "skinned"

    * Can be easily presented in different mediums and on different physical
    page sizes.

    * XML not locked to CSS for style--could still use XSL with same source
    documents.

    * The man command could be changed to support a small specialized XML
    format much more easily than it could be changed to support HTML

    Tables are a bit of a sticking point, but not impossible, I don't think.

    -Beej


  11. Re: Question of getting system/application information

    On Mon, 29 Sep 2008 07:49:58 -0500, Dan C sprout:

    > On Mon, 29 Sep 2008 10:25:22 +0000, Mike wrote:
    >
    >> I'm asking why this old way is still "the standard" and suggesting its
    >> obsolete, only still there because of a cycle of old hands used to
    >> using it, and newbies feeling as if they need to get up to speed with
    >> it as if

    >
    > I already answered this in another post, but here it is again: Not all
    > *nix systems have a web browser available for viewing man pages, n00b.


    and even in the case there's one it's not the whole pie, half the
    time I see html pages is under vi, I also tried vi on man pages and the
    result was quite disapointing ;D)

    of course that's with a real vi, not the vim-basquiatizer...
    duck!

  12. Re: Question of getting system/application information

    On 2008-09-29, Mike wrote:
    >>> "We've always done it this way" doesn't cut the mustard when you've
    >>> jobs waiting and need to fix something before something else happens as
    >>> a result.

    >>
    >> The man reader prevents you from completing jobs....is that your point
    >> here?
    >>
    >> I love to "hear" the explanation for this piece of rubbish.
    >>
    >>
    >>
    >> ken

    >
    >
    > You appear to be looking for a flame here, and I'm not.
    >
    >


    You can't answer the question so you avoid it. The question is valid, how
    does the man reader prevent you from completing jobs as claimed in your post.


    Or are you just more interested in dealing with hyperbole to make a point
    that logic prevents you from making....

    ken


  13. Re: Question of getting system/application information

    On Mon, 29 Sep 2008 16:18:34 +0000, Sylvain Robitaille wrote:

    > Mark Madsen wrote:
    >
    >> Hypertext replaced Gopher? Damnation, why wasn't I told?! When did
    >> that happen, anyway?

    >
    > When was the last time you accessed a Gopher server to find any
    > information? My bet is that it's been a while ...


    OK, I apologise. I left the tags off.

    The honest answer in my case is, about 1994 or 1995 was the last time.

    And before you ask, the last time I used Archie was sometime before that.

  14. Re: Question of getting system/application information

    On Mon, 29 Sep 2008, Loki Harfagr wrote:

    > On Mon, 29 Sep 2008 07:49:58 -0500, Dan C sprout:
    >
    >> On Mon, 29 Sep 2008 10:25:22 +0000, Mike wrote:
    >>
    >>> I'm asking why this old way is still "the standard" and suggesting its
    >>> obsolete, only still there because of a cycle of old hands used to
    >>> using it, and newbies feeling as if they need to get up to speed with
    >>> it as if

    >>
    >> I already answered this in another post, but here it is again: Not all
    >> *nix systems have a web browser available for viewing man pages, n00b.

    >
    > and even in the case there's one it's not the whole pie, half the
    > time I see html pages is under vi, I also tried vi on man pages and the
    > result was quite disapointing ;D)
    >
    > of course that's with a real vi, not the vim-basquiatizer...
    > duck!
    >

    Then does emacs have built in man reading capability?

    Michael


  15. Re: Question of getting system/application information

    Mark Madsen wrote:

    >> When was the last time you accessed a Gopher server to find any
    >> information? My bet is that it's been a while ...

    >
    > OK, I apologise. I left the tags off.


    No apology necessary. I think the implied humour was quite suitable.
    Nevertheless, my question stands ...

    > The honest answer in my case is, about 1994 or 1995 was the last time.


    I'm pretty sure I used the University of Minnesota's Gopher server more
    recently than that (1996? 1997? maybe 1998?), but by that time it was
    more out of curiosity regarding what was still there than that I
    couldn't find what I was looking for otherwise.

    > And before you ask, the last time I used Archie was sometime before
    > that.


    Now Archie I'm sure I was using as late as 1996. I really liked Archie
    ....

    --
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Sylvain Robitaille syl@alcor.concordia.ca

    Network and Systems analyst Concordia University
    Instructional & Information Technology Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

  16. Re: Question of getting system/application information


    Sylvain Robitaille wrote :

    > When was the last time you accessed a Gopher server to find any
    > information?


    Wonder if Veronica is still alive.
    --
    Thomas O.

    This area is designed to become quite warm during normal operation.

  17. Re: Question of getting system/application information


    Chick Tower wrote :

    > Use Konqueror to read your man and info pages if you insist upon using a
    > web browser to do so.


    If it has to be graphic then IMHO khelpcenter is better.
    --
    Thomas O.

    This area is designed to become quite warm during normal operation.

  18. Re: Question of getting system/application information

    On 29 Sep 2008 16:51:34 GMT, Loki Harfagr wrote:

    >On Mon, 29 Sep 2008 07:49:58 -0500, Dan C sprout:

    ....
    >> I already answered this in another post, but here it is again: Not all
    >> *nix systems have a web browser available for viewing man pages, n00b.

    >
    >and even in the case there's one it's not the whole pie, half the
    >time I see html pages is under vi, I also tried vi on man pages and the
    >result was quite disapointing ;D)
    >
    >of course that's with a real vi, not the vim-basquiatizer...
    >duck!


    Does vi open .gz files like vim can? I like the colours in vim

    Grant.
    --
    http://bugsplatter.id.au/

  19. Re: Question of getting system/application information

    On Mon, 29 Sep 2008, Thomas Overgaard wrote:

    >

    Chick Tower wrote :
    >
    >> Use Konqueror to read your man and info pages if you insist upon using a
    >> web browser to do so.

    >
    > If it has to be graphic then IMHO khelpcenter is better.


    Graphic man pages?

    Michael


  20. Re: Question of getting system/application information

    On Mon, 29 Sep 2008 17:37:09 +0000 (UTC), Sylvain Robitaille wrote:

    ....
    >Now Archie I'm sure I was using as late as 1996. I really liked Archie


    1993, that year I moved out of Melbourne and didn't get direct Internet
    (not that the shell type text only access was direct, had to use ftpmail
    gateways to get files) again until it came to town in '95. Of course
    then it was the web instead. Was on fidonet for a while via a local BBS.

    Grant.

    web site is on :8080 at the moment, port 80 somehow got isolated by ISP
    --
    http://bugsplatter.id.au/

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