man-db without cache update (no cron or systemd *.timer)

Peter Schiffer pschiffe at
Wed Oct 15 15:12:07 UTC 2014

On 10/15/2014 04:47 PM, Chris Adams wrote:
> Once upon a time, Jan Chaloupka <jchaloup at> said:
>> there has been a discussion about if we need cache for man-db for users
>> which use man pages or update system only from time to time and thus
>> don't need to update cache every day. man-db as it is now depends on
>> systemd which brings another set of packages. The use case is "I just
>> want to read man page. So I install man which on the other hand download
>> another set of packages. I want to read man page and it downloads systemd.".
> On the majority of systems these days, is it really an issue to cache
> man pages anymore?  I mean, back when a long man page (thinking about
> some of the perl documentation for example) could take a while to
> render, it mattered.  Now however, systems are much much faster, and we
> expect GUI web browsers to render vastly more complicated content in a
> fraction of a second.
> Maybe the time has come to just stop caching man pages at all, or at
> least make that functionality optional (and non-default)?


I would add some noteworthy information:

  * the man-db cron/timer script is taking care of man DB containing
only the man page title and short description i.e., the first NAME
section of the man page. This DB is speeding up the searching in
mentioned section with the man -k command. It is not used for
displaying man pages or doing the full text search with man -K command
and it is not required for normal usage of man command (man -k should
also work without this DB).

  * Debian is updating this DB via deb hooks (or how it is called)
during package installation/update and via daily cron script for man
pages installed outside of package manager.

  * updating this DB is usually pretty quick, but creation can take some

  * man pages cache, pre-formatted man pages stored on disk in plain
text, called cat pages in man-db context, is not used in Fedora.


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