Fool's guide to FIND

Richard Lightman richard at
Fri Nov 22 02:43:34 PST 2002

* Declan Moriarty <declan.moriarty at> [2002-11-22 09:21]:
> >
> > Good man pages are useful as a reference, but are difficult to read
> > when you want an introduction. Someone at the FSF (RMS?) has a really
> > poor opinion of man pages, and does not want of FSF resources 'wasted'
> > on them despite the fact that a good man page is far better for
> > reference than most info documentation. For this reason, you will find
> > the man pages for FSF software are often automatically generated, and
> > not that useful unless you already know a good deal about the command.
> > For introductory text, you are often much better of reading the info
> > pages instead.
> Is that so? Maybe I don't understand enough of what I read. I've heard the 
> man pages are less favoured, and then even run into notices on them to the 
> effect that they are out of date garbage, and to look to the info pages. The 
> info pages seem invariably to be a straight copy of the man pages, or 
> vice-versa. If they worked half a dozen examples into each one, they'd be 
> fine. But the trouble is that docs are written by people who know what they 
> are talking abopute - they should get them written by guys who don't.
Fortunately religious wars over man/info are nothing like as bad as
emacs/vi or gnome/kde, but they are just as pointless. 'less favoured'
is a matter of opinion. 'out of date garbage' is sometimes true - it
depends on the maintainer's opinion of man pages.

If info cannot find an info entry, it will display a man page if it
finds one. There is normally a clue at the top of the page if this is
what is happening - eg: "File: *manpages*,  Node: ncurses,  Up: (dir)".

I install info pages very differently from the book, and correct
several packages to make them install info correctly. As a result, I
am not sure which page to recommend to test your system. Take a look
at "/usr/share/info/dir". This is the equivilant of index.html for
info, and should lead you to correctly installed info pages.

If you have info pages in /usr/share/info/, but they are not in
/usr/share/info/dir, try this:

cp /usr/share/info/dir /var/tmp
for f in /usr/share/info/*.info; do
    install-info --info-file $f --info-dir /usr/share/info

You will get some error messages about badly written info pages, which
you can correct by hand if you want:
install-info --info-dir /usr/share/info/ --section=Miscellaneous \
             --info-file /usr/share/info/ --entry \
'* gzip: (gzip).                                 File compression utility.'

If you do not like the result:

cp /var/tmp/dir /usr/share/info/

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