Writing Man Pages in HTML
The Web invasion of the Internet continues at a breakneck pace. In the space of just a few years HTML has become one of the most widely supported document formats. Currently, there's gold-fever driven effort by a cast of thousands to reformat older sources of information for presentation on the Web. The required technology is relatively simple to understand, and is inexpensive to assemble. Linux is an ideal development and delivery environment: low cost, reliable, and necessary software is included in several competing Linux distributions.
In this article I'll discuss a solution I've written for serving up old documents in the new medium—automated translation. The documents to be converted are the Unix man pages. Man pages are highly structured documents in which major headings and references to other documents, are easily recognized. The files making up the man page system are already organized into a rigid set of hierarchies using a formalized naming system; thus, it is easy to deliver the entire existing man system and document format via the Web without reorganization of content or overall structure. I've assembled some pieces of software that translate the old Unix manual format into HTML while preserving the old style and organization. The technologies present in the Web allowed further enhancements: documents can be cross-linked; alternate forms of indices can be automatically generated; and full text searches are possible.
I've called the package I've assembled vh-man2html. It is designed to be activated as a set of CGI (Common Gateway Interface) scripts from a web server—the same technology that drives HTML forms. This means that vh-man2html can be used to serve man pages to other hosts on your LAN or on the Internet. The principle component of vh-man2html is Richard Verhoeven's man2html translator, augmented by several scripts to generate indexes and facilitate searches. vh-man2html also has some supporting scripts that allow you to drive Netscape from the Unix command line, so that vh-man2html can actually replace “man” on systems that include Netscape.
If you have access to the Web, you can see vh-man2html in action at:
where the man pages for Caldera 1.0 are available on-line.
Figure 1 shows the main vh-man2html web page which provides direct access to individual man pages or to three different kinds of indices: name-description, name-only and full text search. In the main window you can enter the man page name, man page name and section number, or narrow things down even further by specifying the hierarchy or full path name.
Figure 2 shows a man page generated by the man2html converter. The converter has translated the man formatting tags to approximately equivalent HTML tags. It has also created an HTTP reference and links for any references to other man pages. The converter also generates a subject heading index, which is useful when reading larger man pages. Text highlighting and font changes are correctly translated, and if tables are present, they will be translated into HTML tables. At this time, man2html doesn't translate eqn described equations, but since very few man pages use eqn, this is not a major drawback.
Figure 3 shows part of a name-description index for section 1 of the man pages. The index includes an alphabetic sub-index and links into the other sections of the manual. The name-only index in Figure 4 is similar to the name-description index, except that it is more compact.
Figure 5 shows the result of a full text search for pages containing a reference to “cdrom”. Links are generated to each page matched.
These figures illustrate one of the key advantages of serving up the man pages via the Web: a variety of access paths can be presented in an integrated form—a one-stop-shop interface.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide