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Additional Unix Documentation

The manual pages are a reliable source of information. They also offer the advantage of being readable on an ASCII terminal. For example, they can be read quickly over a cable modem or wireless internet connection. However, the manual pages are clumsy and do not support any type of hypertext linking.Various alternative forms of online documentation are therefore coming into wider use. Unfortunately, these different forms vary dramatically from one type of machine to another. Notable examples of such hypertext help systems are:

MAN pages and other on-line documentation

The manual pages, usually called man pages" because they are read with the man command, constitute the traditional "on-line" documentation. " (Of course, these days all the documentation is on-line in some form or another.) Man pages are typically installed with the system. Program-specific man pages come along for the ride when you install new software packages. Man pages are concise descriptions of individual commands, drivers, file formats, or library routines. They do not address more general topics such as
  1. How do I install a new device? or
  2. Why is this system so damn slow?
For those questions, consult your vendor's administration guides or, for Linux systems, the documents available from the Linux Documentation Project.

  1. Solaris AnswerBook: This is a hypertext help system that runs under the Sun X-based graphical user interface.
  2. AIX InfoExplorer: On AIX, the man command is only a front end to the hypertext InfoExplorer database. To search for help on a term, use the command info –s term.
  3. The GNU Info utility: The GNU project has produced an enormous amount of widely used software (especially its C compiler gcc and related utilities). The documentation for these systems is based on the GNU info system. This documentation is read through the emacs text editor.
You can simulate a man command for a manual page you are developing with a command like this one:
$ nroff -man file | more
If you want a printed version of this (or any other) manual page, you will need to use the troff command as well as other printing-related typesetting utilities provided on the system.