apt: Manpages are useless

Derek Broughton news at pointerstop.ca
Wed May 7 16:54:48 UTC 2008

Michael Zoet wrote:

> Hash: SHA1
>>> The manpage for apt is useless, by its own admission. Contrary to
>>> popular belief documentation should not be an afterthought or just
>>> plainly ignored.
>> Huh?  Imo, there shouldn't even _be_ a man page for apt.  It's not a
> command
>> (well, on my system it actually _is_ but it's some kind of alias for
>> javac).  apt is a "concept", tying together a whole slew of packages.
>> So I agree that the man page is useless, but in this case I think it
>> _should_ be ignored (and removed).
> Actually there are two manpages for apt!
> One for the section 1 and one for section 8 of the manpages!
> With
> "man 1 apt" - you get the manpage of "apt - annotation processing
> tool" which is related to JAVA programming. There should/must be a
> manpage for that!.

Not apparently if you're using sun-java6, as I have the apt program
(apt --help gives a help that references javac), but not a manpage.

> "man 8 apt" - you get the manpage of "apt - Advanced Package Tool"
> which is the Debian/Ubuntu package management system
> Both manpages are very usefull for me! Even if the manpage of the apt
> package system is incomplete, as mentioned in the manpage, you get
> valuable information if you follow the "see also" manpages mentioned.

True, but there is no program "apt" in the package "apt"

> So you know where to get next!
> By the way: not every manpage is a command! Just type "man asin" or
> "man 3 error"

Even bigger "huh?".  Of course they aren't.  But according to Wikipedia, and
my own understanding, sections 1 & 8 are _commands_.  Not general concepts. 
Even the header on the page says "Section: Maintenance Commands (8)"

> Even configuration files 
> have manpages. For example: "man fstab" or "man exports".

Of course they do, and should, but they don't go in section 8.  If all you
want is to know those 5 "see also" links, you'd be better off to use
apropos or one of the many search tools, as they're a minuscule portion of
the actual related commands.

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