SUMMARY: local man pages organization

From: Mark Bergman (
Date: Tue Feb 11 1997 - 16:34:34 CST

My original query:
I'm trying to find an easy, transparent way to make local manual pages
available to everyone at our institute. Currently, they are in a NFS
volume, mounted as /usr/local/man. The problem is that most users don't
have MANPATH set, so when they issue a man command, only /usr/share/man
is searched.

I'd really, really like a network-wide solution that doesn't involve
changing things on each machine used for logins.

We have people here who use csh, tcsh, ksh, and bash, so I'd rather not
edit 2 or 3 shell initialization files on each login-server to add a

I'd rather keep the local pages in a separate hierarchy than the Sun

It would be ideal if the file in /usr/share/man allowed you to
specify additional hierarchies, not just the order of suffixs
(directories) within the current tree to search.

I'm considering replacing /usr/bin/man on each login machine with a
shell script that appends /usr/local/man to the MANPATH (if it's not
already set), and then calls the real binary. Can anyone think of a
cleaner solution?
The answers:

Jacques Rall <> (Mark Hargrave) (Barry Brown) (Peter Bestel)
        Various suggestions involving system or user
        .chsrc/.login/.profile files.

        These really aren't acceptable. There's no easy way of
        modifying the current startup files that each individual uses
        here. Since 5 different shells (include /bin/sh) are involved
        on each login machine, modifying the system startup files is no
        fun either.

        If I was designing a new installation, I'd certainly use a
        scheme whereby each user's startup file calls a local
        system file for local modifications. In fact, I'd probably
        make that local file something in perl that uses a template
        of enviroment settings, passing the correct syntax back to
        the calling shell.

Karl E. Vogel <> (Anthony Worrall)
        Both suggested supplying the man pages as html documents.

        A nice idea, but not appropriate for our environment. As
        much as I like the look of man pages via a browser, as an
        admin they lack the ease of displaying them in a login
        session, redirecting the output to a file, etc. (Jafar Shameem)
Rich Kulawiec <>
        Both suggested shell wrappers to /usr/bin/man.

        Rich Kulawiec pointed out that not only would a wrapper be
        shell independent, but if well written, it could be OS (Solaris
        v. SunOS) independent as well.

Erick Cede <>
        A nice scheme about linking each directory in /usr/local/man
        to a directory in /usr/share/man, and modifying

        I like this idea a lot. It avoids re-naming system binaries,
        is shell independent, and means less to change after patch
        installations or OS upgrades (if they change /usr/bin/man).

        This also has the advantage that nothing on each login
        machine needs to be changed "back" when I move their local
        man pages onto the same NFS server that's serving the
        /usr/local/man tree.

Mark Bergman             
System and Network Administrator   212-578-0822
Public Health Research Institute   Rm. 1074, 455 1st Ave, NY NY, 10016

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