Reading Unix manpages
July 25, 2006
One of the important skills for Unix programming is the ability to parse manpages carefully. This is not as easy as it looks, because manpages are traditionally written in a style where everything is important and you have to think carefully about the implications of the exact wording used.
(This can be useful for other things than Unix manpages, since a lot of specifications are written in the same style.)
For example, today I was emailed a comment on my Python
socket module irritation entry
pointing out the existence of the
Thinking about how I would use this, one of the things I found myself
wondering about was what would happen if you
So I consulted the manpage. The Linux
(Similar wording appears in the Solaris and FreeBSD manual pages.)
Once I put on my spec reading hat, it was clear that saying 'the socket
associated with fd' instead of something like 'the file descriptor
fd' was important. Thus
(And some quick Python later, I had confirmed this.)
Written on 25 July 2006.
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