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Is there a way to have man pages available for commands i want without having to install the corresponding package?

For example, I want to browse the man page for emacs. And I don't have emacs installed and prefer not to install it. I know i can visit man pages online , but I want man emacs to get me the man page. Is there a way for this?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

It depends on the package. Emacs isn't packaged in a way that you can. For some packages you can apt-get install basepackage-doc.

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Thanks for the response. I need an alternate way for packages/programs that don't have docs in a separate package. – Mahesh Apr 27 '12 at 14:24

The dman command will automatically download a manual page to a temporary cache, and then show it. It's good for displaying manual pages for software that is not installed, though sometimes it doesn't work well, and you do have to wait for the manual page to download. (Manual pages are small though, so that doesn't usually take long.)

To get dman, install the bikeshed Install bikeshed package.

dman's own man page notes:

Note that the network operations will be a little slower than perhaps you are used to, when reading a manpage. Also note that you must be internet-connected, and able to access for this utility to be useful. Finally, the algorithm that dman uses to retrieve remote pages is considerably simpler than that of man(1).

dman may appear to do nothing at all, if it's unable to find the manual page you're looking for (even sometimes when it should find it). And there's a small delay before and after manual pages are shown. But overall, it's a handy utility to have around, especially when you want to learn more about a program without installing it or switching to a web browser.

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