[lug] System configuration files

Paul E Condon pecondon at peakpeak.com
Tue Jul 29 22:44:21 MDT 2003

On Tue, Jul 29, 2003 at 04:24:52PM -0600, Jeff Schroeder wrote:
> Paul wrote:
> > Debian has a policy on how files on disk should be organized. There
> > is a document that describes the policy and offers a lot of reasoning
> > as to why various ways of doing things are good or bad. Nothing
> > religious; very well reasoned.
> Thanks for the link.  This is the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard I 
> mentioned in my original post, so I don't think it's Debian-specific-- 
> they just include a copy on their web site.
> I agree that it's well-reasoned, even including provisions for "legacy" 
> software like X11 that breaks some of the rules.  Because so many other 
> packages depend on X being in a certain place, the FHS "allows" it.
> However, it still isn't clear (to me, anyway) whether the FHS would 
> prefer /etc or /var for this sort of thing...

For that I refer to the Debian installation on one of my computers.
The Debian maintainers actually use /etc for config stuff. I think
they really expect config stuff to be in /etc. 

The earliest reference to /etc in my library is Kernigan & Pike,
1984. In that book /etc is for system miscellany and there is no
mention of /var or /opt.  These must be much later additions. I think
they were invented because data in /etc was expected to be rather
stable. i.e. Once the sysadmin has the configuration data set up to
everyones liking, it should not be changed.

While you are creating a new distribution, it might seem that config
data is always changing, and thus should be in /var. But tuning config
is usually not the primary activity of a functioning data center.

Paul E Condon           
pecondon at peakpeak.com    

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