[TUHS] man-page style

Tom Manos tom.manos at gmail.com
Sat Nov 17 04:47:11 AEST 2018

Unlike many of us here, I started with UNIX a bit later, at Naval
Postgraduate School, in the mid '80s. It was a relatively early BSD, and I
didn't learn it much except to know that I wanted to understand it better,
but didn't have time. Mostly I had to write C programs.

Just a bit later I had the opportunity to purchase and run Microport
SysV/AT on 286 hardware, and was an immediate convert. I continued using
Microport systems through SVR4. Like others, I found the manuals' thickness
and terseness a turn-off until I bought a book.

I think it was "Introducing the UNIX System" by Henry McGilton and Rachel
Morgan (I still have my copy). A little over 500 pages of UNIX goodness
that taught me all the basics. My experience was that once you know the
basic commands you need for day to day life in UNIX, the manuals become
very helpful. If you can work with sh, ls, awk, find, grep, ps, an editor,
and a few others, the manuals supplement that knowledge with everything
else you need. Additionally, the manuals make a little more sense each time
you read them. Of course, actually administering a UNIX system without
prior knowledge, OJT or a book, using just the manual pages, is next to

BTW, I still run SVR4/MP here at home on period hardware. It's a joy to use.



On Fri, Nov 16, 2018 at 10:44 AM WIlliam Cheswick <ches at cheswick.com> wrote:

>  I agree, and would like to add that Lorinda Cherry’s permuted index of
> the Unix commands was a perfect
> match to those succinct man pages, easing me into the world of all those
> filters.
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