Apropos and Whatis

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Apropos and Whatis

Simon van Meygaarden
Greetings, Folks.

One of the things I really like about FreeDOS 1.2 is the incredible
Help browser: a perfect way to browse through the documentation, and,
in my opinion, much better then the man-pages in Linux.
In "How to use the FreeDOS help" I found a reference to an Apropos
command, and a Whatis command, which seemed very helpful in trying to
find out what FreeDOS has to offer. However, these commands are not
available in either BASE or FULL installation, FDIMPLES doesn't
mention them, and I can't find them in the Packages.

So the question is: am I doing something wrong, and, if not, how do I
add these commands to my system?

Take care,
Simon

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Re: Apropos and Whatis

Ralf Quint
On 6/12/2017 3:14 PM, Simon van Meygaarden wrote:

> Greetings, Folks.
>
> One of the things I really like about FreeDOS 1.2 is the incredible
> Help browser: a perfect way to browse through the documentation, and,
> in my opinion, much better then the man-pages in Linux.
> In "How to use the FreeDOS help" I found a reference to an Apropos
> command, and a Whatis command, which seemed very helpful in trying to
> find out what FreeDOS has to offer. However, these commands are not
> available in either BASE or FULL installation, FDIMPLES doesn't
> mention them, and I can't find them in the Packages.
>
> So the question is: am I doing something wrong, and, if not, how do I
> add these commands to my system?
First time I hear about those programs, and they are not something
elementary to (Free)DOS, they are rather Linux commands/programs.
You don't really miss out on anything on your setup. The author of the
Help system might be able (or not) to shed some more light on this...

Ralf

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Re: Apropos and Whatis

Jiri Wackermann
Hello there,

I'm not an active user of FreeDOS, so I'm only
a listener on this channel, just for curiosity.

Regarding 'apropos' and 'whatis' and their relatives:
these commands are related to manual pages, it's all
Unix philosophy. If you have a Linux around, try

        man whatis

and

        whatis whatis

and you'll know everything. In my view, 'man'
is much easier to use than 'info' (Linux).

'whatis' and 'apropos' search a database created
from a collection of man pages by 'makewhatis'.
Look at

        man makewhatis

for an explanation.

'Whatis' looks for complete word matches,
'apropos' for any matches in the database,
that's the only difference (in my understanding).
Thus 'Apropos' may produce a great amount of
output.

I find these commands very useful for looking
around on an unknown system (or a known system
after a substantial update ;-), combined with
'grep' to filter out references that are really
relevant for my search.

All this is essentially for people who already
know what's there or what should be there, not
really for novices. If you like browser-style
help, you will probably dislike man pages and
their relatives. Just a matter of taste. I wouldn't
consider them elementary in the sense of something
that should be part of a BASE distribution, in
that I agree with Ralf.

DJGPP had man pages and also 'whatis' and such,
if I'm not mistaken. It's many many years ago
I was running  DJGPP on MS-DOS 6.22. Marvellous
times, everything was so simple and easy.

Keep the FreeDOS project up and thriving!

Best wishes to all,
Jiri

_________________________
Jiri Wackermann, Dr.phil.
Independent researcher
Elzstr. 33b
D-79261 Gutach i.Br.
Deutschland/⁠Germany

Tel.: +49 7681 4936707
Tel.: +49 151 29105469 (mobile)
E-Mail: [hidden email]

"Est modus in rebus ..." (Horatius)


_______________________________________
On 2017-06-13 06:39, Ralf Quint wrote:

> On 6/12/2017 3:14 PM, Simon van Meygaarden wrote:
>> Greetings, Folks.
>>
>> One of the things I really like about FreeDOS 1.2 is the incredible
>> Help browser: a perfect way to browse through the documentation, and,
>> in my opinion, much better then the man-pages in Linux.
>> In "How to use the FreeDOS help" I found a reference to an Apropos
>> command, and a Whatis command, which seemed very helpful in trying to
>> find out what FreeDOS has to offer. However, these commands are not
>> available in either BASE or FULL installation, FDIMPLES doesn't
>> mention them, and I can't find them in the Packages.
>>
>> So the question is: am I doing something wrong, and, if not, how do I
>> add these commands to my system?
> First time I hear about those programs, and they are not something
> elementary to (Free)DOS, they are rather Linux commands/programs.
> You don't really miss out on anything on your setup. The author of the
> Help system might be able (or not) to shed some more light on this...
>
> Ralf
>
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> Check out the vibrant tech community on one of the world's most
> engaging tech sites, Slashdot.org! http://sdm.link/slashdot
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Re: Apropos and Whatis

Simon van Meygaarden
In reply to this post by Simon van Meygaarden
Greetings, Folks.

Ralf > First time I hear about those programs, and they are not
something elementary to (Free)DOS,
Jiri > All this is essentially for people who already know what's
there or what should be there, not really for novices.

I respectfully disagree. -smile-

The first thing a new user will see when FreeDOS boots, is the message
"Type HELP to get support on commands and navigation". When one types
HELP, the first line of the Main Help page says "For information on
using Help, press F1...". When F1 is pressed, the How to use the
FreeDOS Help page is displayed, and this pages mentions WHATIS and
APROPOS.

So after learning the HELP command, the next two commands a new user
will learn are WHATIS and APROPOS. And they don't work! It gets even
worse: the same Help page also mentions FASTHELP, FDHELP, and
FSUITE04. And these don't work either!

Now for an experienced user this is not a big issue, I agree, but for
a new user this might just be enough to quit and never look a FreeDOS
again. And that would be a shame.

To be sure, I consider myself an experienced user, but when I dir into
FDOS\BIN and see those 316 different entries, there's a whole lot of
software in there that absolutely don't know about. A simple WHATIS
CWSDSTUB would make my life much easier.

Obviously, I could write a WHATIS.BAT myself, and store it in
FDOS\LINKS, which is in the path. Something like:
        @if exist \FDOS\APPINFO\%1.LSM HEAD -N 5 \FDOS\APPINFO\%1.LSM
Not so pretty, but it works, and it's only 62 bytes.

But my point is, this is mentioned in the Help pages, so these
programs did once exist, and I can't image why someone would remove
them purposefully. In other words, I think this is a little bug, and
if needed, I can download an investigate earlier versions and see if I
can find these programs and add them, but that would only solve *my*
problem, and so I felt it was worth mentioning.

Take care,
Simon

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Re: Apropos and Whatis

Thomas Mueller
In reply to this post by Jiri Wackermann
from Jiri Wackermann:

I'm not an active user of FreeDOS, so I'm only
> a listener on this channel, just for curiosity.

> Regarding 'apropos' and 'whatis' and their relatives:
> these commands are related to manual pages, it's all
> Unix philosophy. If you have a Linux around, try

>         man whatis
       
> and
       
>         whatis whatis

> and you'll know everything. In my view, 'man'
> is much easier to use than 'info' (Linux).

I hate 'info' enough that I find it easier to go through an info file with 'less'.

There is a pinfo package that works much better than 'info' for going through an info file, but I don't know if it is available or buildable for DOS.

If you have KDE installed, Konqueror had a good way of viewing an info file, but Xorg and KDE are far above the capability of any DOS.

Tom


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Re: Apropos and Whatis

Ralf Quint
In reply to this post by Simon van Meygaarden
On 6/13/2017 4:02 PM, Simon van Meygaarden wrote:

> Greetings, Folks.
>
> Ralf > First time I hear about those programs, and they are not
> something elementary to (Free)DOS,
> Jiri > All this is essentially for people who already know what's
> there or what should be there, not really for novices.
>
> I respectfully disagree. -smile-
>
> The first thing a new user will see when FreeDOS boots, is the message
> "Type HELP to get support on commands and navigation". When one types
> HELP, the first line of the Main Help page says "For information on
> using Help, press F1...". When F1 is pressed, the How to use the
> FreeDOS Help page is displayed, and this pages mentions WHATIS and
> APROPOS.
>
> So after learning the HELP command, the next two commands a new user
> will learn are WHATIS and APROPOS. And they don't work! It gets even
> worse: the same Help page also mentions FASTHELP, FDHELP, and
> FSUITE04. And these don't work either!
Again, those programs are not in any form an integral part of FreeDOS.
That those are mentioned in that Help program is an issue you need to
take up with the author of the Help tool.
Best guess is that he wrote something copied verbatim from a similar
tool in Linux, without either noticing the mentioning or not following
up with it.

Ralf

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Re: Apropos and Whatis

Jiri Wackermann
In reply to this post by Simon van Meygaarden
Hi there

> On 2017-06-14 01:02, Simon van Meygaarden wrote:
> The first thing a new user will see when FreeDOS boots, is the message
> "Type HELP to get support on commands and navigation". When one types
> HELP, the first line of the Main Help page says "For information on
> using Help, press F1...". When F1 is pressed, the How to use the
> FreeDOS Help page is displayed, and this pages mentions WHATIS and
> APROPOS.

Simon,

I *fully agree* with you that the user shouldn't get mislead or
confused by references to inexistent commands. No issue.

I was not referring to that particular HELP problem. What I was
commenting on was the utility of those commands, 'whatis' and
'apropos', which imho is little, or less than expected. All useful
information is in the man pages (if the distribution has them at all,
of course). The whatis database is nothing but a collection of those
short descriptions from man pages; it's useful to get quickly a list
of commands related to a topic, nothings else.

The very name 'whatis' is actually misleading;

        whatis blah

doesn't tell what blah really is but what is there related to blah.
This is confusing particularly for novices who expect that 'whatis'
will explain a concept, a technical term or anything. That's why
I say it's rather for experienced users who understand those terse
descriptions and see immediately what to look at -- using 'man',
what else :-)

Where are those good old times we had those spiral-bound manuals?
Sigh...

Best wishes to all,
Jiri

_________________________
Jiri Wackermann, Dr.phil.
Independent researcher
Elzstr. 33b
D-79261 Gutach i.Br.
Deutschland/⁠Germany

Tel.: +49 7681 4936707
Tel.: +49 151 29105469 (mobile)
E-Mail: [hidden email]

"Est modus in rebus ..." (Horatius)

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