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* Man pages have colors? A deep dive into groff
@ 2021-05-15 22:10 Felipe Contreras
  2021-05-17 16:48 ` Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
  0 siblings, 1 reply; 15+ messages in thread
From: Felipe Contreras @ 2021-05-15 22:10 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: git


While I was doing the investigagion for my GNU_ROFF patch [1], I checked
different versions of all the tools (asciidoc, asciidoctor, docbook, and

When I tested my own compiled version of groff I noticed something
weird: man pages have colors. This did not happen with the version
shipped by Arch Linux.

I did notice the output generated by docbook stylesheets showed
\m[blue], but no color showed up.

It turns out Arch Linux disables colors, and so does Debian, by
disabling a feature called SGR. This happened about 10 years, and the
rationale was that "it doesn't work correctly".

To enable SGR on these distributions you need to do GROFF_SGR=1, but
that is not documented anywhere.

groff does check for a variable GROFF_NO_SGR, but it's the other way
around: SGR is enabled unless that variable is set.

There's other ways your distribution might be screwing up with groff
(for example Arch Linux converts \' to ', which is not correct), so you
might want to check your shipped configuration in:


Unfortunately the colors in man pages leave a lot to be desired.

Here is a simple trick I've been using to show some custom colors:

  man() {
    GROFF_NO_SGR=1 \
    LESS_TERMCAP_md=$'\e[1;31m' \
    LESS_TERMCAP_me=$'\e[0m' \
    LESS_TERMCAP_us=$'\e[1;34m' \
    LESS_TERMCAP_ue=$'\e[0m' \
    LESS_TERMCAP_so=$'\e[1;35m' \
    LESS_TERMCAP_se=$'\e[0m' \
    command man "$@"

Hopefully some of you might find this useful.



Felipe Contreras

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 15+ messages in thread

end of thread, other threads:[~2021-05-18 14:27 UTC | newest]

Thread overview: 15+ messages (download: mbox.gz / follow: Atom feed)
-- links below jump to the message on this page --
2021-05-15 22:10 Man pages have colors? A deep dive into groff Felipe Contreras
2021-05-17 16:48 ` Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
2021-05-17 19:28   ` Junio C Hamano
2021-05-17 22:44     ` Felipe Contreras
2021-05-17 22:54       ` Randall S. Becker
2021-05-17 23:33         ` Felipe Contreras
2021-05-18  1:27       ` Junio C Hamano
2021-05-18  4:27         ` Felipe Contreras
2021-05-18  7:16           ` Jeff King
2021-05-18 13:21             ` Felipe Contreras
2021-05-18 14:27             ` Junio C Hamano
2021-05-18  1:28   ` brian m. carlson
2021-05-18  2:12     ` Junio C Hamano
2021-05-18  4:35       ` Felipe Contreras
2021-05-18  4:31     ` Felipe Contreras

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