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2021-01-20 | IT Prepper | Existing Docs

Back in 1995 I would connect to my ISP with PPP with my US Robotics modem, then I would download a copy of NCSA Mosaic, which I would then use to find and install Netscape. I don't remember the logic for Mosaic first. I just remember the sequence. Perhaps I just remembered or had written down the FTP site, or perhaps Netscape was, ironically, only available for download via HTTP. I also remember having to manually enter my DNS server when I connected, and I still remember it to this day. Besides configuration information for my connection, most of the information I needed to connect was in a single book, The Linux Bible, published by Yggdrasil Computing:

It was mostly stuff from The Linux Documentation Project, but it had enough info in it to solve most of my problems.

L1G3R has a fairly complete set of docs in /usr/share/doc, almost 1 GB. Other GNU/Linux distributions often do as well, but this site is focused on L1G3R as a model. All of those commands you normally rely on search engines for syntax should be locally available when you are down. Browsing around /usr/share/doc is a start.

The website you are reading this on is all generated statically with no reliance on other sites using Mountain Climbing Journal. I'm writing this article on MCJ:

If you standardize on L1G3R, which this website assumes as base camp, you can add references like file:///usr/share/doc/bash-5.0/bashref.html. You can do this with many different operating systems, but the links might need to change. The site you are reading this on assumes file references off of root, but from a file system perspective root is at file:///, so for an offline version without a web server you need to copy the site there. For example:

L1G3R uses Virtuoso to serve up all of the domains on different port. This is a better way to ensure you have access to all of your HTML documents, as it is much more flexible at handling more domains. It will also allow you to have default documents like index.html. Here are some of the local domains that I host on my own machine, so I can access all of them without any internet access:

To provide local access to documentation using Virtuoso, create a symbolic link under your virtual server directory:

root [ /usr/var/lib/virtuoso/vsp ]# ln -s /usr/share/doc ./docs
root [ /usr/var/lib/virtuoso/vsp ]# ls -dl doc* 
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 14 Jan 23 07:35 docs -> /usr/share/doc

Create a new virtual host:

You likely want to allow directory browsing:

Browsing to http://localhost:4023/bash-5.0/bashref.html shows this:

Now, let's say that you need to do something directly with the source code on Firefox, or, perhaps, you need to recompile to get your offline system to browse again. Further, you might have a catch-22 where you can't browse your local documentation with Firefox because you need to recompile Firefox. In this case you could use Lynx, a text based browser:

The included documentation is quite extensive. Here is Graphviz: .output { border: 1px solid #999; font-family:'Courier New',monospace; background-color: #dddddd; padding: 5px; }

and ImageMagick:

Imagine trying to figure out those commands from memory, without access to the internet. It is all right there. Another way to think about this, is that you are creating a base camp. It doesn't necessarily mean that "down" means no internet anywhere. Perhaps you are on some kind of sojourn. Perhaps your ability to run your own processes is being stifled. Perhaps your power has been disconnected for non-payment, and you are running your laptop off of battery with no ISP. Who knows what might lead to being "down", but when you are, there is an extensive world of documentation available, starting with /usr/share/doc. (This site isn't supposed to assume much about the reader. Sure, some of it will take some attention and research to grok, but I'm trying to start from scratch on most things. If for some odd reason you didn't know, you can run the command man followed by any command on a *NIX (UNIX and UNIX-ish system... of course GNU is not UNIX), and you will get a somewhat abbreviated version of the manual for that command. Here is an example of the Graphviz dot command as a man page after typing man dot :

The wrong time to figure all of this stuff out is when you are down.