Man-DB Brings Documentation to IBM i
August 12, 2020 Alex Woodie
IBM i developers who have a question about how a particular command or feature works in open source packages now have an easy way to look up documentations, thanks to the addition of support for the Man-DB utility in IBM i, which IBM unveiled in late July.
Man-DB is an open source implementation of the standard Unix documentation system. It provides a mechanism for easily accessing the documentation that exists for open source packages, such as the Node.js language, or even for commands, like Curl.
The software, which can be installed via YUM, only works with open source software on IBM i at the moment; it doesn’t support native programs or commands.
By invoking the “man” command with a few clicks of the keyboard from an SSH session, an IBM i developer can pull up pre-existing documentation for various commands, options, configurations, errors, bugs, and notes for open source programs.
The software, which is powered by an underlying Berkeley DB database, allows the user to navigate through the documentation in an on-line fashion, which can help them get answers to their questions in a speedy manner.
Kevin Adler, an IBMer who works with open source on IBM i, made the announcement on Twitter. “Just shipped man-db on #IBMi!” he wrote. “You can now view man pages from an SSH session for any of the #IBMiOSS packaged we’ve released.”
Man-DB is used by several popular GNU/Linux distributions, including Debian, Fedora, SuSE, and Ubuntu. It also compiles and runs on a number of proprietary Unix systems, and now supports IBM i.
Open source has become the primary method of bringing new software to IBM i in recent years, and the introduction of YUM has streamlined how IBM i shops can get access to the technology. In addition to languages like PHP, Perl, and Node.js, the IBM team is working to bring open source databases to IBM i’s PASE environment, including MongoDB, Apache Cassandra, and PostgreSQL.
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