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man page viewer is not so intelligent after all

The UNIX man pages are probably the most useful invention in the world. The man pages goes one step further at explaining how to use a command or software utility than the typical usage page displayed by the command/utility. It does it by displaying the instruction manual right on your screen. No matter where you are, you can get instant access to the information you need.

To display the instruction manual for a command, all you have to do is issuing the "man" command with the command you want more information about as the argument. The man page viewer intelligently searches for the instruction manual at various locations on your hard drive, following search pathes, environment variables, configuration file, and other means. Usually it's successful.

But the man page viewer in fact is actually very dumb. Sometimes, you'll come across an useful utility that isn't part of your UNIX package. The utility is accompanied by its own man page, such as the "dcraw.1" man page that is associated to "dcraw". The man page viewer is stupid and won't be able to find it on its own, even if the file is in the current directory! Considering all the means that man page viewer goes tofind a man page, it can't find a page that is located in the current directory How stupid is that?

I have tried the "-M" directory method, but it didn't work with the current/target search path. The only way to get the man page viewer to display an independant man page is to specify a file with a slash in it. So to display a man page that is located in the current directory, you'll have to specify the file with "./". For example:

man ./dcraw.1

Chieh Cheng
Fri, 3 Feb 2006 20:48:11 -0800

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