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Linux info and pinfo

© July 2006 Anthony Lawrence


The Linux replacement for man.

I hate it.

Well, that's a bit strong. I find it annoying because I forget to use it (long, long habit of "man") and because of its strong ties to Emacs. If you like Emacs, you probably like info a lot more than I ever will, but if not, just remember this: the space bar and "b" are all you absolutely have to know. The space bar will take you sequentially through everything, and "b" moves you backwards.

If you want to learn more, the "h" key will lead you through a simple and non-threatening mini-course on "info"


Pinfo displays the same "info" files, but is more lynx like; up and down arrows move you from clickable link to clickable link, right arrow invokes a link, left arrow returns you to the previous page.

You can have this on Mac OS X, too. If you have Darwin Ports (now "MacPorts) installed (and if you don't, go to Macports and get it), just do "sudo port install pinfo"

Pinfo is colorized by default, which makes it easy to see where the clickable links are, and because you are always "on" something clickable if there is anything at all, you don't get those annoying Emac's beeps that info emits when you miss your mark.

Like info, pinfo will display a man page if that's all it can find. If you WANT to see the man page specifically, you can invoke "pinfo -m". When it is forced to use a man page, pinfo tells you so on stderr, info does not.

Unlike info, pinfo does not display anything if it has nothing. I've been forever irritated by info coming up with its default page when it has nothing to tell me.

Of course info is more powerful than pinfo. That's a given, but if you aren't an emacs fan, and don't use it constantly, you won't remember how to tap all that power. As info pages often have much more detailed information than man pages, you risk missing a lot by not using info. Pinfo is a less painful way to get that information.

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-> Linux pinfo - for people who hate emacs!

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