[IDEA] New pages for types: structs and typedfefs

Alejandro Colomar colomar.6.4.3 at gmail.com
Sun Sep 13 12:53:37 UTC 2020

Hi Michael,

On 9/13/20 2:01 PM, Michael Kerrisk (man-pages) wrote:
> Hi Alex,
> On Sat, 12 Sep 2020 at 10:59, Alejandro Colomar
<colomar.6.4.3 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hi Michael,
>> On 2020-09-12 08:33, Michael Kerrisk (man-pages) wrote:
>>  > Your not the first to suggest this. Most recently, if I recall
>>  > correctly, Florian also suggested it.
>>  >
>>  > The idea seems reasonable, but I wonder about the best way of
doing it.
>> libbsd already provides a few pages on types.  Maybe we could have a
>> look at them.  At least I've seen 'man timespec' (which redirects to
>> timeval.3bsd):
>>  >
>>  > I propose the desired information for each type would be
>>  >
>>  > * Type name
>>  > * Short explanation of the type (often this mcould be just a
>>  >    few words, I think)
>>  > * Whether the type is specified in POSIX; POSIX requirements on
>>  >    the type.
>>  > * Header file that defines the type (in some cases, there
>>  >    may be more than one. This info can be discovered in the
>>  >    POSIX spec. (Alex, do you have a PDF of the POSIX spec?)
>>  > * Cross references to manual pages of relevant APIs that use the type.
>> I think that would be reasonable.
>> No, I don't have a PDF.  I usually search here:
>> https://pubs.opengroup.org/onlinepubs/9699919799/
> You can get a PDF by registering as a member of The Open Group. I
> think the necessary info is here:
> https://www.opengroup.org/austin/lists.html
> (I find having everything in a single PDF is useful for searching.)


>>  > There are some weird corner cases. For example, clock_t:
>>  >
>>  > * times(2): clock_t == clock ticks (sysconf(_SC_CLK_TCK))
>>  > * clock(3): clock_t measures in CLOCKS_PER_SEC
>> That would just be 1 or 2 more lines in the explanation, I guess.
> Yes, I guess.
>> That's also similar to the typical (mis?)use of size_t as a ptrdiff_t.
>>  > Then, do we do one page per type? At first glance, that seems
>>  > unwieldy to me. (I could be wrong.) And it seems to me that
>>  > there might be benefits in having all of the information in
>>  > one place rather than spread across multiple pages. (For example
>>  > cantralizing the info would make it easier for the reader to
>>  > get an overview.)
>> I agree in that everything should be centralized, at least in the
>> beginning.  That would make it much easier to maintain and find the
>> information.  If the future requires the information to be spread
>> across many pages, let the future solve that problem :)
>>  >
>>  > Alternatively, we could have one big page that is a list of the
>>  > types with the above information. Say "system_data_types(7)".
>>  > That page might be an alphabetically ordered hanging list of
>>  > entries that look like this:
>>  >
>>  >      timer_t     <time.h> or <sys/types.h>
>>  >          POSIX timer ID.
>>  >
>>  >          Conforming to: POSIX.1-2008.
>>  >
>>  >          See: timer_create(2), timer_delete(2), timer_getoverrun(2),
>>  >          timer_settime(2)
>> I'd say here is missing the POSIX requirements on the type.
> As far as I can tell, in the case of timer_t, I think there are no
> requirements in POSIX.
>> Is it a 32-bit or 64-bit or may vary? Is it signed or unsigned?
> POSIX doesn't specify, I think.>
> One other thing the page should show of course is definition of the
> structure types.


    timer_t     <time.h> or <sys/types.h>
        POSIX timer ID.

        typedef void *timer_t;

        Conforming to: POSIX.1-2008.

        See: timer_create(2), timer_delete(2), timer_getoverrun(2),

Like this?  Should I specify somehow if the type definition
is so for Linux only, or for all POSIX, ...?

x86_64-linux-gnu/bits/types/timer_t.h:7:typedef __timer_t timer_t;
x86_64-linux-gnu/bits/types.h:171:__STD_TYPE __TIMER_T_TYPE __timer_t;
x86_64-linux-gnu/bits/types.h:126:# define __STD_TYPE		typedef
x86_64-linux-gnu/bits/typesizes.h:70:#define __TIMER_T_TYPE		void *

This is so for my Debian x86-64.

However, I don't know if this is the definition for all architectures.

I'll start with what I can do, and if you see any type that you know
has a different definition in other systems, I'll let that to you :)

>>  > Then of course, we'd need to have links to that page, so that
>>  > people could just type 'man timer_t'. What section should the links
>>  > be in? The reasonable candidates would be section 3 or 7. I'm not
>>  > yet sure which is better. But the point is that we'd have files
>>  > such as timer_t.3 (or timer_t.7) that are link pages containing the
>>  > line:
>>  >
>>  >      .so man7/system_data_types.7
>> Sure.  And for the structs, I'd allow:
>> 'man struct timespec'   (For simplicity)
>> 'man struct-timespec'   (Similar to the git man pages)
>> 'man timespec'          (For compatibility with libbsd)
> Mainly, I'm interested in the last case. That's the one I think that
> people would most likely use. In a follow-up mail, you expressed
> concern with conflicts with libbsd pages. I'm not too worried about
> that. There are already *many* conflicts between libbsd and man-pages.

I wasn't concerned about conflict with libbsd; that's the form libbsd
uses, and a good point for having that form would be for compatibility
(people will probably like having to write 'man timespec' in any
system and work).

I was instead concerned that some struct tag may have the same name as
some function, which I don't know for sure:

Let's say there exist a function 'int foo(void)', and a 'struct foo'.
If that is the case, which I ignore, you would need to either have
'foo.3' and 'foo.3t' or have 'foo.3' and 'struct-foo.3'.

Your thoughts?

>>  > For the moment at least, I'd favor the "one big page plus
>>  > links" approach.
>> Yes.
> Would you like to take a shot at this? I'd suggest just a simple page
> covering just two or three types to start with. Maybe time_t and
> timer_t, or otherwise some types that seem good choices to you?

Yes, I'd like to.  It'll be my first page from scratch, though, so
don't expect it to be soon :-}

Maybe 'timer_t', 'time_t' and 'struct timespec' would be a good start.

Do you think there's any page that has a similar format to what we want
to base on it?

> Thanks,
> Michael



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