Groff in FreeBSD

Alex Goncharov alex-goncharov at
Mon Aug 11 00:34:32 UTC 2008

I am trying to refresh my old groff skills, playing with it for the
first time on FreeBSD -- and getting very confused with understanding
groff's place and organization here. (I am writing this on FreeBSD 7.0
but I could start an 8.0 system if somebody suggested to take a look

Let's start with the practical end of it: I wanted to find a good
macro package, good by modern standards. In the past, I've tried 'mm',
'ms', 'me' -- and could never decide which one was the most practical
one (well, 'mm', perhaps).  These days, it seems like 'mom' is a
popular package, worth a serious attention.

So, I am trying to see if 'mom' is available on my system, and it is

I do various online searches, and the only thing that comes up is:
  groff macro package 'mom' not installed
  Date: 11/24/03

(and similar entries)

'mom' is, of course, in the source tree:

  ls -ld /usr/src/contrib/groff/contrib/mom
  drwxr-xr-x  4 root  wheel  512 Mar 26 19:30 /usr/src/contrib/groff/contrib/mom/

as is 'mm':

  ls -ld /usr/src/contrib/groff/contrib/mm 
  drwxr-xr-x  4 root  wheel  512 Mar 26 19:29 /usr/src/contrib/groff/contrib/mm/

But while the latter has "tmac" files installed:

  ls /usr/share/tmac/mm*
  0.MT       4.MT       5.MT       locale     mm.tmac    mmse.tmac  ms.cov     se_locale  se_ms.cov

the former does not:

  ls /usr/share/tmac/mom*
  ls: /usr/share/tmac/mom*: No such file or directory

So, I try to build something relevant by hand, and nothing good comes
out of it.  But I notice that the '/usr/src/contrib/groff/contrib/mm'
directory is not the only place for 'mm' -- there is also

  ls -ld /usr/src/gnu/usr.bin/groff/contrib/mm
  drwxr-xr-x  2 root  wheel  512 Aug 10 17:48 /usr/src/gnu/usr.bin/groff/contrib/mm/

which is a built entity.

At this point, I begin not care about having 'mom' -- I just want to
understand the groff organization in FreeBSD.

Things that puzzle me:

1. Under '/usr/obj', there is a 'tmp/legacy' directory, which has an
   empty 'mm' directory deep down:

   find tmp/legacy/usr/share/tmac/mm -ls
   518462        4 drwxr-xr-x    2 root             wheel                 512 Aug  9 23:05 tmp/legacy/usr/share/tmac/mm

   What is this 'tmp/legacy'?  

2. There is an odd relationship between "tmac" files under '/usr/src'
   and '/usr/obj':

for cmd in "ls -l" "diff -q"; do for f in pic.tmac doc.tmac; do $cmd /usr/src/contrib/groff/tmac/$f /usr/obj//usr/src/tmp/legacy/usr/share/tmac/$f; done; done
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  117 Apr 17  2001 /usr/obj/i386/x01/freebsd/7.0/usr/src/tmp/legacy/usr/share/tmac/pic.tmac
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel  117 Apr 17  2001 /usr/src/contrib/groff/tmac/pic.tmac
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel   73079 Aug  9 23:05 /usr/obj/i386/x01/freebsd/7.0/usr/src/tmp/legacy/usr/share/tmac/doc.tmac
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel  148585 Oct 20  2005 /usr/src/contrib/groff/tmac/doc.tmac
Files /usr/src/contrib/groff/tmac/doc.tmac and /usr/obj/i386/x01/freebsd/7.0/usr/src/tmp/legacy/usr/share/tmac/doc.tmac differ

  I.e. some files under '/usr/obj' are regenerated (see "Aug 9" for
  'doc.tmac'), and others are not ('pic.mac').  Some files are
  identical in both places, and others are not.

  What is the logic and mechanics here?

Can anybody shed some light on this?

And also, if somebody had a recommendation on the most practical
choice of the macro package, it would be highly appreciated.

Thank you,

-- Alex -- alex-goncharov at --

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