A web interface for apropos
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A Flask based web interface for apropos(1)

In the summer of 2011, I worked on rewriting [apropos(1)] (https://github.com/abhinav-upadhyay/apropos_replacement) utility for [NetBSD] (http://netbsd.org) as part of Google Summer of Code 2011. This project attempts to develop a web interface for it.

Unlike the traditional apropos implementations, the apropos in NetBSD does full text search and has a ranking algorithm to show the most relevant results at the top. So you could run queries like [create socket] (https://man-k.org/search?q=create+socket) or [search man pages] (https://man-k.org/search?q=search+man+pages).

It also does a basic spell check for queries and offers suggestions. For example try [make directry] (https://man-k.org/search?q=make+directry)

See it in action here: [man-k.org] (http://man-k.org)

Currently it supports following searching man pages for following operating systems:

  • NetBSD
  • FreeBSD
  • OpenBSD
  • Linux
  • POSIX-2013
  • POSIX-2003

Deployment Instructions

  • Install all the required Python packages as mentioned in the requirements.txt file (You may either setup a virtual environment with all those packages or just install them globally, whatever works)

  • Clone mdocml-1.14.1 from https://github.com/abhinav-upadhyay/mdocml, and install it in /usr/local. (I have some modifications to mandoc for generating syntax highlighted html pages)

  • Clone the apropos_replacement repository from my github and checkout the merge_netbsd_linux branch. On linux make -f Makefile.linux, on NetBSD run make to compile it. Run make install to install the binaries or just copy the apropos binary to /usr/bin)

  • Also, build apropos_replacement/man and install it. (There is a change in man(1) required by makemandb(8).

  • To generate HTML format man pages and the apropos database, run updater.py in man-page-updater directory.

  • Run gunicorn to serve the flask app, with something like: gunicorn --workers 2 --bind unix:apropos_web.sock -m 500 --timeout 120 wsgi:app (Consider making it an rc/init script to start it automatically on server startup). You can either make gunicorn serve the site directly, or setup a proxy with Nginx.

  • In case of issues, look into the config.py file, to see if any path is wrong for your system. Also, check the apropos_wsgi.log to see any exceptions from the flask application.