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Re: [PATCH] mdoc: Update operating system release numbers

From: Ingo Schwarze
Subject: Re: [PATCH] mdoc: Update operating system release numbers
Date: Wed, 25 Nov 2020 16:11:58 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.12.2 (2019-09-21)

Hi Larry,

Larry Kollar via wrote on Mon, Nov 23, 2020 at 10:24:44PM -0500:
> Ingo Schwarze <> wrote:
>> Somebody wrote:

>>> Does Cynthia ever pop up to reflect on mdoc's design?

>> Not really.  With the help of Marshall Kirk McKusick, i managed to
>> get into direct contact with her in 2014 ...
>> One thing she did say that people may like round here is this:
>>  "What made the macro package possible was groff.
>>   I regret having had to make the work backward compatible
>>   with ditroff.  Not my decision.
>>   Would have loved to have rewritten the macros solely for groff.
>>   The package would have been smaller, simpler and efficient
>>   (faster, much faster.)"

> Given that ditroff was revived with Plan 9 (and extended with Heirloom
> and Neatroff), maybe that wasn't a bad thing in the long run. :-D 

I don't remeber hearing about anybody using Plan 9 troff, Heirloom,
or Neatroff for mdoc manual page display - at least outside those
historic systems themselves (maybe Plan 9 or some early SUN systems
used their own tools for manual page display, i don't know).  Today,
even if you want to format mdoc manual pages on the totally
anachronistic Solaris 9, you use groff; the native Solaris nroff
has no support for -mdoc whatsoever, not even on Solaris 11.

And in the long run, the groff_mdoc(7) overhaul by Werner LEMBERG
and Ruslan Ermilov in 2001 achieved exactly what Cynthia already
recognized as desirable a decade earlier: couple the implementation
of the groff version of the mdoc macros tightly to groff, systematically
profiting from improved features provided by groff in the groff
*implementation*, while keeping the markup *language* compatible
with non-groff implementations.

So in hindsight, the CSRG's insistence on ditroff compat in the
original mdoc macros probably had no major effect other than some
inconvenience for Cynthia, and it certainly hadn't any lasting


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