This document was written for
A Tour through the NetBSD Documentation
Part II: Info Pages
Hubert Feyrer, March 2001
Part one of this introduction to the NetBSD Documentation concentrated
on the traditional Unix format, the online manual pages. There's more
documentation available, and this part tells you more about the
available online documentation.
Using the Texinfo System
GNU software often only comes with a minimal set of manual pages, and
the largest part of the documentation is available in the
hypertext-based 'texinfo' format. While this format is designed to be
printed (via TeX) as well as read online, we'll concentrate on the
online versions here.
Start "info" to get a directory of available documentation. Navigation
is by moving the cursor up/down to get to a topic, which is then
selected with the RETURN key. To go to the next/previous node, press
the 'n'/'p' key, to scroll down a page press the SPACE key. Press '?'
for a more in-depth online help.
Info Pages Available in NetBSD 1.5
Here's a list of documentation that's available with NetBSD 1.5 and
that can be read via the 'info' reader:
- This contains documentation on the KTH Kerberos 5
implementation. Includes an overview of what Kerberos is, how
to set up a realm and also how to interoperate with Windows
- The KTH folks' Kerberos 4 implementation, which also includes
an overview and setup, plus goes into frequent problems and
- Documentation for the 'amd' automounter, that can mount NFS,
CDROM and other filesystems on first access. The documentation
talks about the components involved and supported filesystem
types, then talks about the config files and utilities for
- as, BFD, binutils, ld, stabs:
- These pages describes the non-compiler end of the GNU
toolchain used by NetBSD in all it's gory details. Starting
from the assembler's input format, output format, library
handling, linking and manipulation of binary object files are
documented as well as the format of object files and debug
code. Only for the very tough ones!
- The GNU debugger is used on NetBSD for post-mortem debugging
of programs as well as kernels plus debugging of running
programs. It allows monitoring variables, processes, and a
whole lot more. Make sure you know how to use this tool if you
intend to program in C or C++.
- Unix-to-Unix-Copy is from the times when data like mail and
usenet news was moved between machines via store-and-forward,
i.e. when leased lines were too expensive, and times for long
distance calls had to be kept low. UUCP is still in use in
some cases today, but it's rapidly superseded by "modern"
- This info page describes the 'dc' reverse-polish desk
calculator which supports arbitrary precision arithmetic. If
expr(1) is not good enough, try this one!
- The GNU diffutils as distributed in NetBSD include diff, diff3
and sdiff. If you want to find the differences between two or
more files, you might want to have a look here.
- The documentation for the GNU profiling program tells you how
to collect data on runtime performance of a program or kernel,
and how to analyze the data to find problems.
- Get/Regular Expression/Print was one of the most used commands
in ex(1). The 'search text' facility became so popular that it
was split out in an extra program - grep. Learn everything
about the program, it's options, error messages and regular
expression ('text wildcards') in this info page. One of the
must-know's in Unix!
- This info page documents the C++ IOstream library. It focuses
on available operators and streams, manipulation of file
contents and strings as well as associating strings with
- The send-pr(1) tools is used by NetBSD and other operating
systems to report problems (hence the name :-). If the
on-screen instructions that pop up in your editor of choice
aren't sufficient, you can find full instructions on how to
operate send-pr(1) here.
- cpp, g++, g77, gcc:
- After as, ln and binutils, these pages describe the compilers
of the toolchain used by NetBSD. Included programs are the C
preprocessor (which is also used for C++ and some other
applications), the C++, Fortran and C compiler. All the
options are documented in much detail here. A must for serious
Open Source programmers!
- NetBSD still uses the GNU implementation of the awk
programming/scripting language. Being a mixture somewhere
between /bin/sh, sed and perl, you can learn all about one of
Unix' first scripting languages here.
- info, install-info, texi2dvi, texindex, makeinfo, info-stnd:
- Documentation on the texinfo documentation system
itself. Describes how to get started, using the standalone
'info' program, how to write your own documentation in
texinfo format so it can be formatted for printing via TeX, of
for online-consumption via 'info', and more.
Note that if you install third party programs via pkgsrc or
pkg_add(8) that come with their own
info pages, they will be listed too. The above is just what is shipped
with NetBSD 1.5 in the /usr/share/info directory.
(c) Copyright 20000110 Hubert Feyrer
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