man should have a backup plan if /tmp is not available

Bug #163851 reported by lcampagn on 2007-11-19
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
man-db (Ubuntu)
Colin Watson

Bug Description

It would be really nice if man did not fail completely when /tmp is not available. I've run into this a few times, usually / is mounted readonly while I'm doing some disk work and I need to look up the manpage for ext2resize or similar, but man doesn't work without a writable /tmp filesystem. I'll bet most computers these days have enough memory to handle a manpage without decompressing it to disk..

Ralph Janke (txwikinger) wrote :

Thanks for your report.

The issue that you describe has the following problem:

The manpages are compressed in order to save diskspace. Therefore man must decompress the compressed manpage and in order to do so it must have an ability to write on a disk/filesystem of some kind. If your root filesystem is read-only that more likely than not it is because of an error that occurred while accessing this filesystem. It would be extremely difficult to make provisions for any possible configurations.

On the other hand. This is an exceptional situation in which usually only a trained system admin will try to do something. For such a person, it should be easy to mount /tmp to a writeable drive or even ramfs. In that moment man can work again.

Do you think that this procedure is acceptable in such a situation?


Colin Watson (cjwatson) wrote :

Ralph, I'm afraid you're entirely wrong here, as demonstrated by the fact that I have already fixed this bug. :-)

man-db (2.5.0-1) unstable; urgency=low
    - Implement and use a decompression library. This allows cat pages to be
      saved in the background while the pager is active (closes: #18452) and
      operation with a read-only /tmp (closes: #165499).
 -- Colin Watson <email address hidden> Sun, 07 Oct 2007 20:38:25 +0100

This version is available in Hardy.

Changed in man-db:
assignee: txwikinger → kamion
status: Incomplete → Fix Released
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