From the Canyon Edge -- :-Dustin

Friday, September 5, 2008

Announcing the Ubuntu Manpage Repository:

I love the Ubuntu Wiki, and I think the Official Ubuntu Documentation is great! These are two important reasons why Ubuntu has been such a successful Linux distribution.

But at the end of the day, I'm a terminal-and-manpage kind of a guy.

Earlier this year, I found myself on IRC answering basic questions from an Ubuntu user about some random utility, and I asked him if he had read the manpage yet. He responded that he had read whatever he could find on the web, but he didn't really dabble on the command line in general.

It occurred to me that there may well be a contingent of Ubuntu users who are entirely disconnected from the wealth of resources so many developers have poured into manpage-based documentation.

A cursory search turned up a couple of RH-based, or advertisement-riddled Linux manpage websites. I also found, which is closer to the Ubuntu target, but unfortunately, the pages are CGI-generated and thus not indexable by Google/Yahoo.

So I submitted a request-for-comments to the Ubuntu Documentation team, and no one could point me to an existing web repository of Ubuntu's manpages. I started the obligatory Launchpad Blueprint, Wiki Specification, and Bazaar project.

And as of today, the Ubuntu Manpage Repository is live at:
This site contains nearly 300,000 HTML viewable manpages included in Ubuntu releases (Dapper, Feisty, Gutsy, Hardy, Intrepid) and across all of (main, universe, restricted, multiverse) and across all languages where manpages are available. It is automatically updated daily.

I expect there are some remaining issues, or oddball manpages missing from the archive due to not matching my regular expressions. I invite you to file bugs against the ubuntu-manpage-repository Launchpad project.

The site also hosts the gzipped manpages too, and I'm working on a patch to man(1) that would optionally fail over to remotely retrieve a requested manpage if not found on the local system.

Thanks to Kees Cook, Jamie Strandboge, and Colin Watson for their patches and code review, as well as LaMont Jones for helping bring the site online!