Watch: How to write documents with groff -me
Watch this video if you want to learn how to write documents with groff -me on Linux.
I ran DOS at home throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s. When I was an undergraduate student in the early 1990s, I tried Unix for the first time in our campus computer lab. I wanted the Unix experience at home, and that's how I discovered Linux. I dual booted my computer with DOS and Linux; I booted into Linux when I wanted to run Unix, and I booted back into DOS when I needed to run DOS applications.
In 1993, Linux didn't have a lot of applications. Specifically, Linux didn't have word processors in 1993. DOS had lots of word processors to choose from, but Linux didn't offer any "word processor" programs. When I needed to write a paper for class, I rebooted back into DOS so I could use my word processor.
To save myself from constantly rebooting my computer, I wanted to learn the Unix tools so I could write my papers in Linux. I learned the nroff and groff text formatting systems, which worked well to generate documents I could print on my dot matrix printer.
I recently shared this experience in a video. This starts with a simple document that demonstrates a few basic macros, then shows how to write an academic paper using the -me macro package:
If you'd like to write documents with groff -me on Linux, use this document as a starting point:
.tp .he 'left'center'right' .fo 'left''%' .sp 6 .ce 5 .b "Title of my paper" .sp 2 Jim Hall .sp Class .sp Instructor .sp Date .bp .ls 2 .sh 1 Introduction .pp One cool thing I like about the history of Unix is how Unix developed into a document processing system. The short history of that is the Unix team wanted to purchase a new computer to keep working on Unix. But management said .q No. .pp Around that same time, the Patents team wanted to buy a new computer to write patent applications, but the vendor hadn't finished the software yet. The Unix went to them and said: .(q Hey, if you buy us a new computer, we'll update the existing .b roff typesetting system so you can write patent applications. .)q .pp That's how Unix created the first .b roff program, .i "new roff" . Later, the updated .b nroff to become .b troff , the .i "typesetter roff" , and even later .b ditroff , the .i "device independent" version of .b troff .