Installation of Manpages-es

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original in en Miguel Angel Sepúlveda

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This article explains how to install the Spanish man pages.

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The success of Linux in the international arena is partly due to the availability of sources as well as to the great documentation and tutorials that exist about the operating system. If linux is going to be a success in its spanish distribution we must have spanish manuals of similar quality to the ones available in English. There are several projects dealing with the translation of HOWTOs, mini-HOWTOs, LDP manuals (Linux Documentation Project) and finally manual pages. Manpages-es is the name chosen for the spanish translation of the last one.

One year ago, a group of volunteers decided to begin translating one by one the manual pages normally included in the Linux distributions (Slackware, Debian, RedHat,..). Until now all our efforts were centered on the translation work itself. However, we realized that an important aspect of the project has been left unattended to: the installation and use of the manual pages. In this article we describe the process of installation and use of the spanish manual pages for those new to UNIX.

UNIX has a system for the visualization of manuals and very specific help pages . The main command to access to those pages is - man. This command is the point of entry to a data base that controls all the manual pages included in your Linux distribution. The pages themselves are written in TROFF/NROFF, an old computer typesetting language. Each version of UNIX has manual pages in a specific directory. The standard adopted by the Linux community for this directory is /usr/man


It is important to mention first that the version of man pages you have must be capable of processing spanish characters. The standard characters known as Latin1 gives support to the special characters used in most of the western European languages, including spanish. Therefore, man must understand Latin1 characters. Any version of man after man-1.4f is valid. In fact we believe most current distributions of Linux includes an appropriate version of man.

The next step is to get a recent distribution of manpages-es and unpack it in a local directory. This distribution can be found in various locations. A point of reference is the home page of the project. The last version available is (at this moment man-pages-es-0.2). After downloading the distribution, unpack it with the following command

gunzip -c man-pages-es-0.2.tar.gz | tar -xvf -
A new directory called man-pages-es-0.2 is created containing the manual pages. Now we can change to this directory 
cd man-pages-es-0.2
and examining the distribution of manpages-es. The pages come in several sections (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8) and they are respectively found in the sub-directories man1, man2, .. man8. There is also a makefile that we will use to install the pages. Take a look at the makefile to understand what will happen during the installation.

To copy the pages to the destination site we simply execute 

make install
This must be done as superuser since we are writing into the directory /usr/man. When it ends, make will have created a sub-directory /usr/man/es that contains the spanish manual pages. At this point, the installation process ends.

Users with limited disk space can opt for installing the pages in their compressed form. For this to work the command man installed in your system has to be able to read TROFF compressed pages. Again, except for the oldest of linux distributions, most current distributions include a "man" supporting this feature. To install the compressed pages do the following:

           make gz
           make install

Finally it is necessary to modify the file /etc/man.config  that controls the options of the command man. In particular, we only have to make sure that man will process TROFF/NROFF sources with Latin1 characters. For example, here is the man.config I use in my system. The only difference with the original configuration file are the lines

           NROFF  /usr/bin/groff -Tlatin1 -mandoc
           NEQN   /usr/bin/geqn -Tlatin1
where I specified as output of groff and geqn, the set of Latin1 characters.


We now have the pages properly installed and configured. In order to use them every user must assign the following environment variables LANG and LESSCHARSET (Note: this variables could also be set globally, making the spanish pages the default). The first variable controls the locale, that is the language to be used in the active shell environment. if LANG=es then the command man searches for the manual pages under the directory /usr/man/es (spanish version) and if it does not find it there it tries again in /usr/man (english version). The second variable makes the pager "less" activate the processing of  latin1 characters. Of course we are assuming that we decided to use less as the default pager for man. This is the default selection in the file man.config given as an example before. If the user has a bash shell both variables can bet set by

               export LANG=es
               export LESSCHARSET=latin1

In case of csh or tcsh then one would use 

               setenv LANG es
               setenv LESSCHARSET latin1
The user can set these variables in the initialization files for the shells .bashrc or .login