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16. Pre-installed Documentation

This chapter tells you where to find documentation on a common LINUX distribution. The paths are derived from a RedHat distribution, but are no less applicable to other distributions, although the exact locations might be different. One difference between distributions is the migration of documentation source from /usr/???? to /usr/share/????--the proper place for them--on account of their being shareable between different machines. See Chapter 35 for the reason documentation goes where it does. In many cases, documentation may not be installed or may be in completely different locations. Unfortunately, I cannot keep track of what the 20 major vendors are doing, so it is likely that this chapter will quickly become out of date.

For many proprietary operating systems, the definitive reference for their operating system is printed texts. For LINUX, much of documentation is written by the authors themselves and is included with the source code. A typical LINUX distribution will package documentation along with the compiled binaries. Common distributions come with hundreds of megabytes of printable, hyperlinked, and plain text documentation. There is often no need to go the the World Wide Web unless something is outdated.

If you have not already tried this, run

ls -ld /usr/*/doc /usr/*/*/doc /usr/share/*/*/doc \
        /opt/*/doc /opt/*/*/doc

This is a somewhat unreliable way to search for potential documentation directories, but it gives at least the following list of directories for an official RedHat 7.0 with a complete set of installed packages:

/usr/X11R6/doc             /usr/share/vim/vim57/doc
/usr/lib/X11/doc           /usr/share/doc
/usr/local/doc             /usr/share/gphoto/doc
/usr/share/texmf/doc       /usr/share/lout/doc

Kernel documentation: /usr/src/linux/Documentation/

This directory contains information on all hardware drivers except graphic cards. The kernel has built-in drivers for networking cards, SCSI controllers, sound cards, and so on. If you need to find out if one of these is supported, this is the first place to look.

X Window System graphics hardware support: /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/doc/

(This is the same as /usr/X11R6/doc/.) In this directory you will find documentation on all of the graphics hardware supported by X, how to configure X, tweak video modes, cope with incompatible graphics cards, and so on. See Section 43.5 for details.

TEX and Meta-Font reference: /usr/share/texmf/doc/

This directory has an enormous and comprehensive reference to the TEX typesetting language and the Meta-Font font generation package. It is not, however, an exhaustive reference.

LATEX HTML documentation: /usr/share/texmf/doc/latex/latex2e-html/

This directory contains a large reference to the LATEX typesetting language. (This book itself was typeset using LATEX.)

HOWTOs: /usr/doc/HOWTO or /usr/share/doc/HOWTO

HOWTOs are an excellent source of layman tutorials for setting up almost any kind of service you can imagine. RedHat seems to no longer ship this documentation with their base set of packages. It is worth listing the contents here to emphasize diversity of topics covered. These are mirrored all over the Internet, so you should have no problem finding them from a search engine (in particular, from http://www.linuxdoc.org/):

3Dfx-HOWTO Finnish-HOWTO Modem-HOWTO Security-HOWTO
AX25-HOWTO Firewall-HOWTO Multi-Disk-HOWTO Serial-HOWTO
Access-HOWTO French-HOWTO Multicast-HOWTO Serial-Programming-HOWTO
Alpha-HOWTO Ftape-HOWTO NET-3-HOWTO Shadow-Password-HOWTO
Bash-Prompt-HOWTO German-HOWTO NIS-HOWTO Software-Release-Practice-HOWTO
Benchmarking-HOWTO Glibc2-HOWTO Networking-Overview-HOWTO Sound-HOWTO
Beowulf-HOWTO HAM-HOWTO Optical-Disk-HOWTO Sound-Playing-HOWTO
BootPrompt-HOWTO Hardware-HOWTO Oracle-HOWTO Spanish-HOWTO
Busmouse-HOWTO INDEX.html PCMCIA-HOWTO Text-Terminal-HOWTO
Commercial-HOWTO ISP-Hookup-HOWTO Plug-and-Play-HOWTO UUCP-HOWTO
Config-HOWTO Installation-HOWTO Polish-HOWTO Unix-Internet-Fundamentals-HOWTO
Consultants-HOWTO Intranet-Server-HOWTO Portuguese-HOWTO User-Group-HOWTO
DOS-Win-to-Linux-HOWTO Kernel-HOWTO Printing-Usage-HOWTO VMS-to-Linux-HOWTO
DOS-to-Linux-HOWTO Keyboard-and-Console-HOWTO Quake-HOWTO Virtual-Services-HOWTO
Distribution-HOWTO META-FAQ Reading-List-HOWTO XFree86-HOWTO
Emacspeak-HOWTO MILO-HOWTO SCSI-Programming-HOWTO XWindow-User-HOWTO

Mini HOWTOs: /usr/doc/HOWTO/mini or /usr/share/doc/HOWTO/mini

These are smaller quick-start tutorials in the same vein (also available from http://www.linuxdoc.org/):

3-Button-Mouse DHCPcd Leased-Line PLIP Software-RAID
ADSL DPT-Hardware-RAID Linux+DOS+Win95+OS2 Partition Soundblaster-AWE
ADSM-Backup Diald Linux+FreeBSD Partition-Rescue StarOffice
AI-Alife Diskless Linux+FreeBSD-mini-HOWTO Path Term-Firewall
Advocacy Ext2fs-Undeletion Linux+NT-Loader Pre-Installation-Checklist TkRat
Alsa-sound Fax-Server Linux+Win95 Process-Accounting Token-Ring
Apache+SSL+PHP+fp Firewall-Piercing Loadlin+Win95 Proxy-ARP-Subnet Ultra-DMA
Automount GIS-GRASS Loopback-Root-FS Public-Web-Browser Update
Backup-With-MSDOS GTEK-BBS-550 Mac-Terminal Qmail+MH Upgrade
Battery-Powered Hard-Disk-Upgrade Mail-Queue Quota VAIO+Linux
Boca INDEX Mail2News RCS VPN
BogoMips INDEX.html Man-Page README Vesafb
Bridge IO-Port-Programming Modules RPM+Slackware Visual-Bell
Bridge+Firewall IP-Alias Multiboot-with-LILO RedHat-CD Windows-Modem-Sharing
Bzip2 IP-Masquerade NCD-X-Terminal Remote-Boot WordPerfect
Cable-Modem IP-Subnetworking NFS-Root Remote-X-Apps X-Big-Cursor
Cipe+Masq ISP-Connectivity NFS-Root-Client SLIP-PPP-Emulator XFree86-XInside
Clock Install-From-ZIP Netrom-Node Secure-POP+SSH Xterm-Title
Coffee Kerneld Netscape+Proxy Sendmail+UUCP ZIP-Drive
Colour-ls LBX Netstation Sendmail-Address-Rewrite ZIP-Install
Cyrus-IMAP LILO News-Leafsite Small-Memory  
DHCP Large-Disk Offline-Mailing Software-Building  

LINUX documentation project: /usr/doc/LDP or /usr/share/doc/ldp

The LDP project's home page is http://www.linuxdoc.org/. The LDP is a consolidation of HOWTOs, FAQs, several books, man pages, and more. The web site will have anything that is not already installed on your system.

Web documentation: /home/httpd/html or /var/www/html

Some packages may install documentation here so that it goes online automatically if your web server is running. (In older distributions, this directory was /home/httpd/html.)

Apache reference: /home/httpd/html/manual or /var/www/html/manual

Apache keeps this reference material online, so that it is the default web page shown when you install Apache for the first time. Apache is the most popular web server.

Manual pages: /usr/man/ or /usr/share/man/

Manual pages were discussed in Section 4.7. Other directory superstructures (see page [*]) may contain man pages--on some other UNIX systems man pages are littered everywhere.

To convert a man page to PostScript (for printing or viewing), use, for example (for the cp command),

groff -Tps -mandoc /usr/man/man1/cp.1 > cp.ps ; gv cp.ps
groff -Tps -mandoc /usr/share/man/man1/cp.1 > cp.ps ; gv cp.ps

info pages: /usr/info/ or /usr/share/info/

Info pages were discussed in Section 4.8.

Individual package documentation: /usr/doc/* or /usr/share/doc/*

Finally, all packages installed on the system have their own individual documentation directory. A package foo will most probably have a documentation directory /usr/doc/foo (or /usr/share/doc/foo). This directory most often contains documentation released with the sources of the package, such as release information, feature news, example code, or FAQs. If you have a particular interest in a package, you should always scan its directory in /usr/doc (or /usr/share/doc) or, better still, download its source distribution.

Below are the /usr/doc (or /usr/share/doc) directories that contained more than a trivial amount of documentation for that package. In some cases, the package had complete references. (For example, the complete Python references were contained nowhere else.)

ImageMagick-5.2.2 gcc-c++-2.96 libtool-1.3.5 pmake-2.1.34
LPRng-3.6.24 ghostscript-5.50 libxml-1.8.9 pygtk-0.6.6
XFree86-doc-4.0.1 gimp-1.1.25 lilo-21.4.4 python-docs-1.5.2
bash-2.04 glibc-2.1.92 lsof-4.47 rxvt-2.6.3
bind-8.2.2_P5 gtk+-1.2.8 lynx-2.8.4 sane-1.0.3
cdrecord-1.9 gtk+-devel-1.2.8 ncurses-devel-5.1 sgml-tools-1.0.9
cvs-1.10.8 ipchains-1.3.9 nfs-utils- slang-devel-1.4.1
fetchmail-5.5.0 iproute-2.2.4 openjade-1.3 stylesheets-1.54.13rh
freetype-1.3.1 isdn4k-utils-3.1 openssl-0.9.5a tin-1.4.4
gawk-3.0.6 krb5-devel-1.2.1 pam-0.72 uucp-1.06.1
gcc-2.96 libtiff-devel-3.5.5 pine-4.21 vim-common-5.7

next up previous contents
Next: 17. Overview of the Up: rute Previous: 15. Symbolic and Hard   Contents