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11.2 Man Pages

A package can also include man pages (but see the GNU standards on this matter, Man Pages in The GNU Coding Standards.) Man pages are declared using the MANS primary. Generally the man_MANS variable is used. Man pages are automatically installed in the correct subdirectory of mandir, based on the file extension.

File extensions such as .1c are handled by looking for the valid part of the extension and using that to determine the correct subdirectory of mandir. Valid section names are the digits ‘0’ through ‘9’, and the letters ‘l’ and ‘n’.

Sometimes developers prefer to name a man page something like in the source, and then rename it to have the correct suffix, for example foo.1, when installing the file. Automake also supports this mode. For a valid section named section, there is a corresponding directory named ‘mansectiondir’, and a corresponding _MANS variable. Files listed in such a variable are installed in the indicated section. If the file already has a valid suffix, then it is installed as-is; otherwise the file suffix is changed to match the section.

For instance, consider this example:

man1_MANS = thesame.1 alsothesame.1c

In this case, will be renamed to rename.1 when installed, but the other files will keep their names.

By default, man pages are installed by ‘make install’. However, since the GNU project does not require man pages, many maintainers do not expend effort to keep the man pages up to date. In these cases, the no-installman option will prevent the man pages from being installed by default. The user can still explicitly install them via ‘make install-man’.

For fast installation, with many files it is preferable to use ‘mansection_MANS’ over ‘man_MANS’ as well as files that do not need to be renamed.

Man pages are not currently considered to be source, because it is not uncommon for man pages to be automatically generated. Therefore they are not automatically included in the distribution. However, this can be changed by use of the dist_ prefix. For instance here is how to distribute and install the two man pages of GNU cpio (which includes both Texinfo documentation and man pages):

dist_man_MANS = cpio.1 mt.1

The nobase_ prefix is meaningless for man pages and is disallowed.

Executables and manpages may be renamed upon installation (see Renaming). For manpages this can be avoided by use of the notrans_ prefix. For instance, suppose an executable ‘foo’ allowing to access a library function ‘foo’ from the command line. The way to avoid renaming of the foo.3 manpage is:

man_MANS = foo.1
notrans_man_MANS = foo.3

notrans_’ must be specified first when used in conjunction with either ‘dist_’ or ‘nodist_’ (see Fine-grained Distribution Control). For instance:

notrans_dist_man3_MANS = bar.3

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