[TUHS] Another "craft" discussion topic - mindless tool proliferation

Jon Steinhart jon at fourwinds.com
Thu Sep 21 04:35:19 AEST 2017

Another point that has been hinted at on the man page discussion.

A concept that seemed to get lost at the FSF is that man pages are summaries.
They're not exhaustive.  While a man page is all that's needed for something
simple like "ls", I expect there to be well written documents for more complex
programs.  For example, I do not expect a complete description of yacc on the
man page; that belongs in a separate document.  I still have notebooks with
the printed versions of the old docs around.

The man page problem is also exacerbated by the bloatage that afflicts the FSF
versions of many formerly simple utilities.  Huge numbers of dash options
plague many utilities that in my opinion should be broken up into separate
simpler programs.  Not to mention that by adding so many options they felt the
need for long options, and now one has to deal with two options for some but
not all things.

Making things worse, some man pages are just not written with the user in mind.
The one that constantly annoys me is bash.  There's around 450 lines of gunk
about shell variables near the front which I always have to skip past because
I forgot the syntax of some parameter expansion.  I hardly ever care about the
shell variables, and I don't think that I'm alone.


More information about the TUHS mailing list