Tag Archives: help

bropages: It’s like man, bro

I see the evolution of thought that brought about the name “bropages,” and I’ll admit that I too most often learn best just by looking at an example.

2014-10-09-6m47421-bropages-01 2014-10-09-6m47421-bropages-02

bropages is an extrapolation of man pages, focusing on practical examples and very terse explanations, rather than just wordy explanation.

And I am on board with that. I prefer man pages that include examples instead of just dry explanation because, as has been the problem even recently, words get in the way, and the problem compounds itself.

So bropages has its own niche that I can appreciate.

The actual bropages tool — which installs as bro — wins points from me for keeping things simple, but attractive: It is more or less transparent, it sends its responses to your $PAGER, and colorizes the results to make things easier to read. Those are all three big pluses for me.

And for what I have seen, bro makes it easy to contribute to the collective bro-knowledge, with bro add being the gateway to submitting your own individual genius … provided you have an account, of course.

There’s a social networking element (for lack of a better word) here too, with the option to promote or demote examples. For what I can tell, examples with high ratings appear at the top of the list, which might be an indicator of their usefulness.

Might be. I’ve already skimmed through one or two bropages and seen examples that I wouldn’t use, or would at least do differently. You could probably say that about anything, but I think the caveat to bropages is to remember that you’re relying on the collective intelligence of a vast swath of complete strangers. Buyer beware.

The AUR version of bropages worked fine for me; I don’t see bropages in Debian but I think this might be a new endeavor.

If you find bropages particularly useful, be sure to say, “Bro … thanks,” to your bros online. 😎

man: Man, oh man

I didn’t include man in my traversal of the M section back in January, and as rameses pointed out later in an e-mail, that was an oversight. One of the best parts of man, he said (she said?), was in this:

man --html=elinks man

which on most systems will give you this:


Ta-da, a man page with clickable links, and navigation that you’ll know and love. If you want to take that home to meet your parents, I can tell you that the Arch version dumps that file into /tmp in an individual folder, usually with a filename that resembles your original command.

Copy that to anywhere you like, and you have a permanent local man page accessible by browser. And you thought all those online manpage collections were Internet wizards, and here they are just script kiddies taking advantage of a built-in feature of man. :\

But wait, there’s more. 😯

man -t man

By itself that’s only partially useful, but jam the results through our old friend ps2pdf.

ps2pdf man.ps

And … bingo:


Yeah, I know: Acrobat Reader. I did that just to annoy you. Did it work? 😈

Now man is clever enough to dump to PostScript file, and of course from there, we can generate spiffy PDF versions of our favorite documentation. Print those out, and you’ll never need digital help again. Or you can study for the edX Linux course next month. πŸ˜‰

rameses also mentioned it was possible to cue up man pages from within emacs, and I had to hunt down the answer to that one. Turns out just a simple M-x man from within emacs will prompt you for a title, which in turn yields something like this:


Nifty. The only way I know of to do that in vim is man man | vim - which is a bit brutish. Giving vim :!man man doesn’t count, since that’s just dropping back to the shell, and cues most (my $PAGER) as a result. If you know of a better way, please let me know. πŸ˜‰

In any case, rameses was right: It’s worth checking out man just for its ability to generate alternative formats. I promise to pay better attention next time. πŸ˜‰