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I have installed a minimal Debian 9 through CD image. I configured Apt to not install recommended packages and now the system don't have any man page.

man apt-get, man mkdir, or man ping doesn't show any man page; instead, I get

bash: man: command not found
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bash: man: command not found

means that you need to install the man-db package.

Manpages are installed by default in most cases, because Debian policy strongly encourages them to be shipped in the same package as the commands themselves:

Each program, utility, and function should have an associated manual page included in the same package.

  • Sure, but there is any reason why Debian 9 doesn't ship with man-db (and hence man) installed by default? – Pablo Bianchi Jan 31 at 4:37
  • @Pablo what makes you think it doesn’t? The OP explicitly performed a minimal install and configured apt to ignore “Recommends”. That’s not the default installation. man-db is “Priority: standard” and installed in the default installation, but not in the minimal one. – Stephen Kitt Jan 31 at 5:21
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    OK, so Digital Ocean Debian default droplet (at least with 9.6 x64) installation is a minimal one. – Pablo Bianchi Jan 31 at 5:27
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The apt package which contain apt-get, also contains the manpage for apt-get (it even contains it in 7 languages), so if you have apt-get installed, you really should have the manpage. If you don't you've messed up your system in a way beyond what any packaging system can help you with.

Similar can be said for mkdir in the coreutils package, and for ping in iputils-ping.

But configuring APT to not install recommends (which I also always do, and believe to be a good thing), will mean that you don't get manpages of any program where the Debian developer making the package has chosen not to include it in the package, but in a package that is only a recommandation. I guess there's a lot of options, but some number of programs have manpages in the manpages package.

  • Manpages are supposed to be shipped in the package alongside the command they document. The manpages package does document some commands, but only a small number. Other packages which don’t include manpages tend to do so for licensing reasons (e.g. gcc). – Stephen Kitt Apr 1 '18 at 12:02

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