Why questions don't get answered, or "No, I've already RTFM, tell me the answer!"

John Summerfied debian at herakles.homelinux.org
Fri Dec 30 22:29:40 UTC 2005

Gene Heskett wrote:
> On Thursday 29 December 2005 22:36, Les Mikesell wrote:
>>On Thu, 2005-12-29 at 21:07, Gene Heskett wrote:
>>>>It would greatly help if most of the man pages included examples
>>>>of usage.
>>>Hear hear!!
>>Often the man pages have examples of the way the author expected
>>the program to be used.  However, there's still a good chance
>>that isn't exactly what you want to do with it.
> I submit to you all the manpages for bash.
> Paragraph after paragraph of explanation of this option and that option 
> in a quite verbose manner, and not a single actual example of a 
> command line, and the results it should return.  That makes writing 
> even a 10 line bash script into an extended reading and re-reading 
> session with heavy use of the manpages builtin grep because its so 
> poorly organized that the complete answer may be in 3 or more places 
> scattered through it.  And the chances of it doing what you wanted on 
> the first execution are slim to zip.  Bash scripts can be made to do 
> litterally anything you need them to do, but...  So I come to one of 
> these lists and ask for help, finally getting acceptable results in 
> 3-4 days, often using a method thats not at all clear in the manpages.  
> The help I have received on one list or another has often been far 
> more clearly and concisely stated than the manpages for bash that I 
> have printed out and bound, and read from end to end probably 30 times 
> now.
> I rest my case.
I reckon your expectations are a little steep.

I don't think you will find the kind of information you desire comes 
with any implementation of any programming language, certainly for 
peecees. Have you noticed the proliferation of Windows books?

Back when OS/2 was at its peak there were not a lot of books around, 
partly because the documentation that came with it was quite complete, 
though with a technical orientation that probably would have defeated 
you. I had quite a busy little website for a while, explaining how I'd 
done things.

Back then, I got daily email thanking me for doing such a good job. Much 
nicer than the daily spam I get now:-

If you want to master bash, perl, python, ldpa, sendmail, postfix, cyrus 
imap or any other complex topic, then Tim Oreilly has a book for you. 
Maybe several.

The man page for bash is quite good (especially for one coming from the 
FSF), but it's reference material, not tutorial.



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